A PROJECT to redevelop the Mercury Theatre has moved a step closer after bosses secured £400,000.

The Mercury Rising project is a £9.7 million extension and refurbishment of the site at Balkerne Gate, Colchester.

It aims to transform and safeguard the building for future generations.

Plans include creating a new café and foyer, a new production block, a new box office and space for educational workshops.

The project has now been handed £400,000 in repayable funding from the Nesta-run £7 million Arts Impact Fund.

The money being used has been repaid by other arts organisations since the launch of the fund in 2015 and cash which was not used for other projects.

Steve Mannix, executive director at Mercury Theatre, said: “We are grateful to the Arts Impact Fund for their support of our Mercury Rising project by helping us realise £9.7 million of investment in our building, ensuring that we are able to continue to present and produce world class theatre for future generations.

“In particular, their support has enabled us to create for the first time in our history an on-site rehearsal room, a dedicated community and education space, a professional standard dance studio, increased dressing room capacity and improved technical and digital resources.

“All of these resources will enable us to retain high quality artistic standards, offer opportunities for new and emerging local and regional artists, expand our training and apprenticeship offer and provide space for young people and our community partners.”

Nesta is a foundation which helps art-based projects get off the ground by offering repayable loans.

It has offered money to 30 organisations in the arts and culture sector, totalling £9 million since 2015.

There are just over 200 days to go until the grand reopening of the Mercury Theatre. Plans are underway for an official launch weekend.

The theatre’s autumn/winter programme will be announced soon bringing details of events to look forward to in and around the new space and this summer the theatre will host a number of exciting pop-up performances around the town.

Visit mercurytheatre.co.uk.