Theatre plans still take centre stage in Midlothian

Councillor Jim Bryant pictured in one of the Newtongrange Mining Museum out buildings which could be converted into a theatre for local use as part of a �6million development plan
Councillor Jim Bryant pictured in one of the Newtongrange Mining Museum out buildings which could be converted into a theatre for local use as part of a �6million development plan

The continued push for an arts and theatre complex in Midlothian despite a second failed bid for funding has been welcomed by local artists.

Midlothian Council is to work with partner agencies to improve its funding bid for a £6.5 million arts and theatre complex centre at the National Mining Museum in Newtongrange, despite being turned down for a Regeneration Capital Grants Fund grant by the Scottish government at the first round stage this year. A funding bid in 2013 was rejected by Creative Scotland.

At last week’s full council meeting, councillors agreed to pursue the project, which would create the first theatre in the county for 100 years

Tom Bancroft of the Pathhead Music Collective welcomed the news: “I think there is a shortage of venues in Midlothian and anything that’s going to increase the range of venues is a good idea which should be supported.”

Rod Lugg of Dalkeith Arts welcomed the news that plans are being pursued, but is worried that they could be at the expense of other facilities.

He said: “I think it is worthwhile. Midlothian hasn’t got any performance space. To have something like that would be quite a nice facility to have, especially the performance space. It’s quite exciting.

“I would however like Dalkeith Arts Centre retained. With the proposed redevelopment of Jarnac Court that could disappear. It would be a real shame to lose that. So I wouldn’t want that to happen.

“But I’m not against a bigger space for the whole of Midlothian. Just be careful that it is not at the cost of Dalkeith Arts Centre.”

Councillor Jim Bryant (SNP), the cabinet member for economic development, said: “We’re determined to carry on with our plans as we feel it’s a fantastic opportunity to help regenerate the area.

“We’re disappointed to hear that first round bid was rejected. However, we’re determined to work with partner agencies to strengthen our case and re-apply next year.

“With the Borders Railway now open, the site is just two minutes from the station at Newtongrange and 15 minutes from Waverley. The complex would provide a venue for existing arts groups in the area, as well as encouraging new talent – and even drawing some shows from Edinburgh’s Festival Fringe.”

He said the workshops offered a massive space and the theatre would bring an economic boost to the area.