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£992,271 lifeline for cultural organisations in Colchester

11 Dec £992,271 lifeline for cultural organisations in Colchester

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and Arts Council England has today announced further awards from its £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund: £58.9million has been awarded through the Fund’s Capital Kickstart grants programme, and over £165million has been offered through the Repayable Finance programme.

The Capital Kickstart grants will help cultural organisations across the country cover additional costs, caused by Covid-related delays or fundraising shortfalls, to their capital projects, including building works, refurbishments and large-scale equipment purchases.

£992,271 has been awarded to Mercury Theatre and Colchester Arts Centre from the programme to help deliver projects that will help to strengthen the region’s cultural infrastructure.

£128,182 for Colchester Arts Centre, which is set in a little church with a big attitude, deep in the heart of Essex. It presents a highly varied programme, with a focus on fresh ideas, new acts, new art forms and vibrant new ways of working. Funding will support the arts centre to fulfil its capital project, unlocking the full potential its venue and improving its long-term resilience.

£864,089 for The Mercury Theatre, which exists to put theatre at the heart of the cultural life of the community it serves and to make work in Colchester that reaches audiences and generates critical attention regionally and nationally. Rooted in its local community the theatre touches over 130,000 people in Colchester and the surrounding area each year through the vibrant and broad programme it stages across two auditoria, and through community education partnerships. Funding will support completion of the Mercury’s capital transformation, creating a regional centre of excellence for East Anglia.

The Repayable Finance programme will provide loans of £3million and above to some of England’s largest and most prestigious cultural organisations, helping them to weather the effects of the pandemic and reopen when it is safe to do so. These loans have been tailored specifically to be affordable for cultural organisations and are offered on generous terms with an initial repayment holiday of up to four years, a low interest rate and up to 20-year repayment term.

Today’s announcement follows several previous rounds of investment from the Culture Recovery Fund, which saw £428million distributed to over 2000 cultural organisations though the Grants programme, alongside the £3.36million Emergency Grassroots Music Venues Fund. The financing announced today takes the total allocated from the Culture Recovery Fund over £1 billion, delivering on the government’s commitment to be here for culture in every corner of the country during this pandemic.

Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, said: “This government promised it would be here for culture and today’s announcement is proof we’ve kept our word.
“The £1 billion invested so far through the Culture Recovery Fund has protected tens of thousands of jobs at cultural organisations across the UK, with more support still to come through a second round of applications.
“Today we’re extending a huge helping hand to the crown jewels of UK culture – so that they can continue to inspire future generations all around the world.”
Amy Vaughan, Director, East of England, Arts Council England, said: “Thanks to the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund we have been able to support a huge range of organisations across the East of England, of all shapes, sizes and areas of work. Today’s funding through the Cultural Capital Kickstart Fund will build on that by providing vital support for capital transformations that have been affected by the economic impact of Covid 19. Each of these capital projects will make a huge difference to these organisations and we’re delighted to give them the kickstart they need to reach completion.”
Ant Roberts, Director, Colchester Arts Centre, said: “We are thrilled and delighted to receive this boost in our ambition to create a genuinely beautiful and fully accessible arts centre for our community. 2020 has been a difficult and challenging year for us all, we are grateful to the government for their financial support during this time.”

Steve Mannix, Mercury Executive Director, said of the award: “This is incredibly welcome news – we are all overjoyed and thankful for this lifeline which will enable us to ensure we can now fully complete this vital transformation to our wonderful theatre, reopen to our audiences and return to making a vital contribution to the local economy of Colchester.

“We are extremely grateful to Colchester Borough Council, DCMS and Arts Council England that this funding will enable us to finish this capital project and what we set out to do; complete the theatre’s transformation and prepare for a fully Covid-safe reopening as soon as possible. We cannot wait to share our re-imagined programme of events for the spring and welcome our audiences back to the Mercury, as soon as restrictions allow.

“The public have been incredibly generous in their support of our fundraising efforts throughout our Mercury Rising campaign, including our recent text-giving and crowd funding campaigns, for which we truly thank them. We continue to value this wonderful support and will need our local community behind us more than ever as we open our doors to welcome everyone back!”