THE trustees of The Brunton have warned East Lothian councillors that plans to cut their funding by 15 per cent would be “devastating and self-defeating”.

Councillors approved plans to slash the funds for the theatre in the year 2019/20 by £70,000 at their annual budget meeting on Tuesday.

They said that they were giving the theatre time to find other avenues of funding by delaying the cut by one year and compared it to what they said was a nationwide reduction in funds for cultural and leisure venues of 17 per cent.

However, the trustees warned that the magnitude of the reduction could lead to job losses and additional support being lost if they were forced to take a more commercial approach.

They said: “As the flagship arts venue for East Lothian, having to manage a significant cut in funding and a change to a more commercial direction would not allow Brunton Theatre Trust (BTT) to fulfil the expectations of the East Lothian residents and the local arts community re participation in a vibrant and relevant arts programame as part of the cultural landscape of East Lothian. BTT would need to present work with a more commercial focus to increase earned income.

“Creative Scotland would not be supportive of this direction, so a possible further loss of grant from Creative Scotland circa £35,000 a year and an inability to apply for the Regularly Funded Programme in the future.”

East Lothian Council said: “The change to the contract payment (in year two of the three-year budget) gives the trust and council time to review its operational model and explore opportunities for generating increased income from other sources.

“In a challenging financial climate, this will enable the trust to continue playing an important role in overseeing a high-quality venue with successful events and contribute to the development of the arts in East Lothian. This change compares to a 17 per cent reduction in the leisure/culture sector across Scottish local government in the past year.”