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Brunton Theatre Trust in discussions about possible new venue

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.”

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Get out and about in Musselburgh with Fringe 2023!

Announcing The Brunton’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe programme

Whilst roofing repair options are appraised for The Brunton building, Brunton Theatre Trust is taking the Fringe out and about in Musselburgh, showcasing the great venues on offer in the town, whilst retaining the box office counter and the fabulous Bistro, at The Brunton itself.

Musselburgh is easy to get to in East Lothian, bordering on the eastern edge of Edinburgh, with regular bus and train services.

Visitors and locals alike can take a dip at Fisherrow Sands, recently designated as bathing water quality. Or enjoy a stroll on the beach, or by the river and sample some of the delicious ice cream on offer in the town, before enjoying a wealth of arts and entertainment events, programmed by Brunton Theatre Trust.

This year’s treats include soloists from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra with a unique and exclusive series at Northesk Parish Church. The church is across the road from The Brunton and is also the venue for a concert with BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winners and hot folk property, Ímar.

Lunchtime, interactive theatre with Liam Rudden’s Silence in Court is at the Stables Pavilion at Musselburgh Links, whilst Musselburgh Grammar School will be filled with the sounds of the Moonlight Serenade Orchestra and The Glenn Miller Big Band Spectacular.

Loretto School Theatre hosts The Brunton’s community company with The Steamie, Christine Bovill’s extraordinary concert, From Piaf To Pop and There’s Been A Murder with Glenn Chandler talking about creating the iconic TV series Taggart. The Brunton’s cinema programme continues at Loretto School Theatre this August with National Theatre Live’s Fleabag and the feel-good summer movie, Mamma Mia. The fun starts with a Greek themed supper at The Bistro at The Brunton, followed by the movie at Loretto School Theatre. Complimentary transport between venues, is provided for supper bookers.

Brunton Theatre Trust has a long tradition of taking theatre outdoors for the Fringe, and this year they have expanded this to a whole Festival Day at Musselburgh Racecourse on Saturday 26 August. This family friendly day includes indoor storytelling with It’s In The Bag and Macastory and outdoor theatre performances with Quantum Theatre’s The Wind In The Willows and Illyria’s Pride and Prejudice. Tickets holders can also enjoy face painting and entertainment from stilt walkers and jugglers, included in the price. The onsite deli provides takeaway or sit in refreshments during the day with Pinkie Bar open in the evening.

Michael Stitt, Chair of Brunton Theatre Trust said:

“Brunton Theatre Trust plays a key role in the live arts and entertainment scene in Scotland. Our Fringe Festival programme is a highlight of the summer. We are delighted to partner with other Musselburgh venues this year, allowing us to continue to provide a varied and exciting Festival Fringe programme for townspeople and visitors alike.

Although our own performance spaces are closed for roofing appraisal, The Brunton building remains open for our box office counter, as well as for our friends at The Bistro. They have designed special summer menus to complement our programme, offering a special pre theatre supper as well as a popular lunch menu, tasty snacks and drinks.

Musselburgh truly is the place to be this summer, for Festival Fringe fun!”

Full information about all these events can be found at www.thebrunton.co.uk.

Tickets can be purchased directly through The Brunton’s website or via the Box Office on 0131 653 5245, Monday to Saturday 10am to 5pm.

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Musselburgh rallies to support Brunton Theatre Trust

Following the shock news of the temporary closure of performance spaces at The Brunton, the Theatre Trust reached out to venues in Musselburgh, East Lothian and beyond to source alternative spaces for their packed programme of community and professional events.

The Trust has been heartened by the response from venues from Musselburgh, into Edinburgh and across East Lothian offering support and space.

“This is not a scenario we could have imagined, just two weeks ago, but we now have performances taking place at Loretto School Theatre, North Esk Church, Musselburgh Grammar School and Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh. Where possible we are keeping our events in Musselburgh, as that is the home of The Brunton. It is no small task liaising with venues and companies to make sure their needs can be met and the staff at The Brunton have all pulled together with incredible versatility and creativity to overcome obstacles and forge new partnerships.

The Brunton is at the heart of cultural and community life in Musselburgh and is of vital importance to the town. It is recognised that attendance at and participation in the arts has a positive impact on wellbeing.”

Michael Stitt, Chair of Brunton Theatre Trust

Loretto School have linked with Brunton Theatre Trust. Their Theatre is situated off Millhill and is an ideal space for a lot of the community dance school bookings due to take place at The Brunton this spring. Musselburgh Amateur Musical Association’s show will also take place at Loretto School Theatre.

“When we heard the news about Brunton Theatre, our first concern was for the dance school families and community performers. We were very concerned at the thought of disappointing these families, so are absolutely delighted that Loretto School have come to our rescue. Their theatre set up is also ideal for some of Brunton Theatre Trust’s professional programme.”

Councillor Andy Forrest, Trustee of Brunton Theatre Trust

Brunton Theatre Trust has programmed a Christmas candlelit concert into North Esk Church for many years and this relationship is being further developed with the Bite-sized Concerts at Lunchtime series taking place there. Soup and a sandwich will now be served in the Church Hall with the concerts taking place in the Church.

“North Esk Church has a lovely, special atmosphere. The acoustics work really well for solo recitals, chamber music and larger ensembles, as well as other music styles. It is just over the road from The Brunton, so easily accessible for our audiences.”

James Waters, classical music programmer at The Brunton

Finding a venue to fit the large capacity of Venue 1 has been trickier, but thanks to the quick responsiveness of FES and staff at Musselburgh Grammar School, the Trust can now start to move some concerts into that school. Feedback from audience members who went to the A Vision of Elvis concert was very positive. The hall has flat seating with a raised stage, so good sightlines. For future concerts interval refreshments will also be available.

A night at The Brunton, for many people, also includes pre theatre supper at The Bistro. The Bistro remains open for business and is very much welcoming pre theatre diners as well as daytime customers for snacks and lunches.

“This situation was certainly a shock to our system but we are delighted that Brunton Theatre Trust have managed to keep so much of their programme in Musselburgh, so that our customers can still enjoy pre theatre suppers at The Bistro. We will make sure bookers get to their event on time and if needed will arrange transport to get them from The Brunton to their new venue in Musselburgh.”

Norma Buchan, owner of The Bistro at The Brunton

Rescheduling so many shows is a massive task, but the staff at The Brunton remain upbeat.

“We are grateful for the support and understanding shown to our staff from our customers, as they patiently await updates about events they have booked for. We appreciate that these changes are coming at short notice, however we will not cancel shows unless there is absolutely no other alternative. We are exploring all options possible and do not want to disappoint our customers.”

Lesley Smith, General Manager of The Brunton

Customers can keep up to date with what is happening by following The Brunton on Facebook and twitter, signing up for email bulletins and visiting the website www.thebrunton.co.uk .

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Roofing inspection causes temporary closure of Theatre space

“Brunton Theatre Trust has been advised by East Lothian Council that during planned roofing inspection work, structural issues have been identified within our Theatre space. This means that the Theatre space has been closed temporarily with immediate effect, whilst more detailed inspections are carried out. Audience members and groups with existing bookings are being contacted to discuss the options available.

Further inspection is being carried out in Venues 1 and 2, and the Council will let us know as soon as they can, whether this will have any impact on upcoming planned events in these areas.
The Bistro at The Brunton is unaffected by this and remains open as usual.

We will provide updates as soon as we have them, meanwhile we ask our customers to bear with us, as we work through this complicated situation.
Brunton Theatre Trust is committed to providing a diverse, high quality arts and entertainment programme of events and participatory projects within East Lothian. We will continue to work with our partners in the coming days to explore all options available for our programme, our audiences and our venue bookers to make sure that we continue to do this.”
Michael Stitt, Chair of Brunton Theatre Trust