Brunton Theatre Trust in discussions over possible short-term lease of Haddington Corn Exchange

It has been confirmed today (19 July 2023) that The Brunton Theatre Trust (BTT) is in discussion with the Council regarding the proposal for a temporary lease of the Haddington Corn Exchange as a venue for performances and public use from September 2023 for an initial six months period.

East Lothian Council Leader, Norman Hampshire, said: “In March this year the performance areas of The Brunton had to close following building inspections which identified structural issues. The council’s Arts Service team, working closely with the Brunton Theatre Trust, were able to utilise alternative venues to continue some of the programming which has been greatly appreciated by their customers and audiences.

“The BTT is currently working with Loretto School to house its film screenings and smaller scale theatre and dance performances in the school’s theatre and they are also presenting concerts in partnership with Northesk Church. However, it has also been recognised that a larger space for performances would also be desirable due to the Brunton Hall Theatre and Venue 1 being closed for use.

“Following the completion of the use of the Corn Exchange by NHS Lothian as Covid-19 vaccination centre the building is being assessed for use by the BTT for some of their forthcoming performances with the possibility that these may begin at this venue later this year. In addition, through the BTT, the Corn Exchange would once again be available for wider public use and community events when not required for performances which I know will be widely welcomed.

“On behalf of the Council I would like to thank all the staff and the Trustees at the Brunton for their hard work keeping things going during this difficult situation. I would also like to assure everyone that the Council is well aware of the importance of the Arts to the quality of life in East Lothian. ”

Michael Stitt, Chair of Brunton Theatre Trust said:  “Everyone is telling us that arts and entertainment in East Lothian is hugely important to them, and we are listening – the shows will go on! The Brunton Theatre Trust, with support from East Lothian Council, managed to secure in an incredibly short period a range of local venues enabling much of our programming to continue.

“We have created a Festival Fringe programme for August, with events taking place at fantastic venues across Musselburgh: Loretto School Theatre, Northesk Parish Church, Musselburgh Racecourse, Lothian Suite at Musselburgh Links and Musselburgh Grammar School. The Trust are currently finalising the details of their Autumn programme, which includes cinema, live theatre, concerts and a pantomime. Full details will be available soon.

“Our team are skilled at hosting amazing experiences across various venues. Our technicians have set up professional sound and lighting in numerous alternative venues and our Front of House staff will be there to ensure the fantastic customer experience that people have come to expect from The Brunton.

“The Trustees are extremely fortunate to be working with an agile and highly capable Brunton staff team. Without their dedication and support over recent months, much of this extraordinary programming would not have been possible. The shows have gone on because of them and our wonderful partner organisations who have stepped into to offer us space and support.

We will continue to work with East Lothian Council to find a venue to host our larger scale events until such times as the return of The Brunton Hall is known – discussions around the potential use of the Corn Exchange in Haddington provide exciting potential for a new venue for The Brunton in the centre of the county. Meanwhile the Brunton building is still open for customers to visit our box office counter and to spend time enjoying snacks, lunch or pre event suppers at The Bistro at The Brunton.”

Published: Wednesday, 19th July 2023