Mercury marks reopening following five-year campaign

Confetti drop on the stage over leaders and funders

Led by the Mercury’s Executive Director, Steve Mannix, and Executive Producer, Tracey Childs, it was a momentous occasion today as we held a ceremony to mark the venue’s reopening following the Mercury Rising transformation, a 5-year campaign which raised over £11.3 million to reimagine the theatre’s spaces, both operationally and ecologically, and improve accessibility throughout. The building opens for the first time to the local community for a special weekend of events on 26 and 27 June.

Steve Mannix and Tracey Childs welcomed guests to the celebratory event, including Cllr Lyn Barton; Adam Bryan; Cllr Graham Butland; Cllr Mark Corey; Mayor of Colchester Cllr Robert Davidson; Cllr Paul Dundas; Dan Gascoyne, Chief Operating Officer Colchester Borough Council; Cllr Darius Laws; Dirk Paterson, Chair of Colchester Borough Homes; David Shipley and Cllr Julie Young, who were then given a tour of the new building.

Executive Director, Steve Mannix, today said, “Thank goodness – we made it! This has all been made possible thanks to the unique partnership of the management of the project that will undoubtedly be a benchmark for future collaborations. We are hugely grateful to our funding partners for their unwavering support and for the huge generosity of the public in helping us realise the scale of our ambition of Mercury Rising.

“Of the £11.3 million funding required to rebuild the Mercury, we are incredibly proud that over £10 million pounds was reinvested directly into the local economy. As an organisation we spend at least £3 million in the local economy each year and we are ready and waiting to return to our place as an essential destination for the town and its visitors.

“The vital aspect now is that we are ready to welcome the community to their theatre; a theatre that has been supported by the community, built by local people- employed by local contractors, and championing local talent across all of our activities.”

Cllr Darius Laws, Portfolio Holder for Economy, Business & Heritage, commented, “After five years of very hard work and more than a year of uncertainty, today is a wonderful moment to celebrate completion of the Mercury Rising project and to look forward to an exciting and dynamic programme of events.

“The Mercury is one of Colchester’s premier cultural institutions – critical to the vitality of our town centre and local economy, with new job and internship opportunities. Providing access to art, culture and a new social space for all to enjoy, the Mercury Theatre is a cultural asset we can all be proud of.”

Will Quince, MP, also said, “I was delighted to visit our new and improved Mercury Theatre and I was left impressed not only with the standard of the renovations but with the new and improved facilities.

“Not only is the Mercury Theatre a beacon in Colchester’s thriving cultural and arts scene, but the multi-million pound renovation reasserts the Mercury’s standing as one of our country’s finest regional theatres.”

The refurbished Mercury includes a transformed brighter foyer space, which is open all day, with a new café bar, redeveloped main auditorium with additional seats, new rehearsal room, revamped and extended backstage facilities, improved interval experience with increased toilet facilities, and most importantly for the first time the building will be accessible throughout. The new community space and dance studio is equipped to support the best new talent, and in addition, the company continues its commitment to sustainability, including increasing the building’s energy efficiency with the expansion of LED lighting, converting to 100% renewable electricity and the implementation of solar panels.

The building has been converted by Phelan and is designed by Colchester Borough Homes and Purcell.

Supported by Arts Council England, Colchester Borough Council, Essex Country Council, South East Local Enterprise Partnership and European Regional Development Fund, plus generous public and private donations.

Colchester Borough Council has been the lead partner in the success of the Mercury Rising project, providing £1.5 million towards the initiative, securing £4m of Arts Council Funding and working with the Design Team from Colchester Borough Homes, who also managed the delivery of the improvement works.

Additional support from other funders included – Essex County Council (£1 million), South East Local Enterprise Partnership (£1 million), the European Regional Development Fund (£978,000), NESTA (£400,000), over £600,000 from national and local Trust and Foundations and £665,000 from local residents, audience members and sponsors.

The project has also benefitted from support from the Government’s Kickstart Cultural Recovery Fund (£864,000).

The Mercury will open from Saturday 26 June at 10am for tours of the new building (bookable online in advance) and to sample the new Café Bar menu. Audiences are set to return for the inaugural performance at the theatre, a Mercury Production of BASKERVILLE!, directed by Creative Director, Ryan McBryde, from 30 July.

Back to Blog