Funding boost to support Mercury Rising Project

Efforts to secure nearly £9 million to expand and redevelop the Mercury Theatre in Colchester have moved a step closer to success.

The Mercury Rising Theatre Project has been awarded £1m from the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP), subject to Arts Council England backing the project with a £4m funding contribution.

World-class theatre for artists and audiences

SELEP’s Accountability Board considered the Mercury Rising Theatre proposal and ambition to create a world-class theatre for artists and audiences, to improve the user experience and attract more visitors to its performances.

Christian Brodie, Chairman of SELEP, said:

“The case for investing in the Mercury Rising project is compelling. “Creating places where people want to live and work is more than simply investing in infrastructure and new housing, it is also about investing in our communities, and that includes our leisure economy.

“Without substantial investment the theatre will decline, visitor numbers and revenues will decline and the long-term future of the site in the heart of Colchester will become unsustainable. This would damage the town’s economy and perceptions of Colchester as a growing cultural tourism destination. The Mercury Theatre provides a year-round source of visitors and will help boost Colchester’s night time economy. “

Improved rehearsal space and facilities

The proposed investment would improve rehearsal space and facilities to support high-quality productions and attract new performances to the theatre.

The project will also provide a new home for 10 businesses, with demand having been identified from similar facilities in the local area. It would create 52 additional direct Full Time Equivalent (FTE) jobs, including in the creative sector, visitor economy and construction industry. 


The Mercury Rising project has also secured £1m each from Essex County Council and Colchester Borough Council.

A decision from Arts Council England is expected in December.

What is the Mercury Rising project

A £8.9m extension and refurbishment of the Mercury Theatre - transforming and safeguarding the building for future generations.

Mercury Rising will raise £1.9m to complete an £8.9m extension and refurbishment of the Mercury Theatre - transforming and safeguarding the building for future generations.

Find out more here.

Funding for growth

This project is one of 96 Local Growth Fund projects bringing growth to the South East. Click here to read the business case for the Stansted Airport College.

The Local Growth Fund is the Government’s funding pot of at least £2bn a year from 2015/16 to 2020/21. Most of the funding is allocated through a competitive process, there are have been three rounds of Local Growth Funds between 2014 and 2017 which funds projects which will deliver up to 2021.

Growth Deals are a £12 billion national long-term programme to revitalise local economies. The deals are an exemplar approach of the British economy being rebuilt from the bottom up, and sharing the benefits of the recovery around the country.

In total the SELEP Growth Deal with Government bring almost £590.8m of investment to East Sussex, Essex, Kent, Medway, Southend and Thurrock. Over the lifetime of the Deal (2015-2021 we aim to deliver 78,000 jobs, 29,000 homes, the deal and brings new responsibilities and flexibilities. and is set to attract a further £960 million extra investment into the South East over the next five years.

SELEP Downloadable Document Click here to view the Mercury Rising business case.