Mercury Theatre awarded £120,000 Wolfson Foundation funding support to safely reopen

Four actors, mid-rehearsal

This one-off exceptional grant from the Wolfson Foundation is intended to support us to mitigate the substantial impact of Covid-19 in delays to our £10million Mercury Rising transformation and subsequent reopening of the theatre, delayed until Spring 2021.

Due to the pandemic, theatres have experienced increases in Covid-19 related costs and seen a shortfall in income from both box offices and fundraising potential. The Mercury is a registered charity relies on funding and ticket income to carry out our work on stage and within the community. When lockdown hit, the Mercury was in a unique position. The main theatre building was closed to the public whilst the £10 million capital project was underway, and although we did not have a full season of shows and events to cancel, a planned number of pop-up productions, fundraising events and our extensive youth and community programme for audiences and local young people were immediately cancelled.

While we have produced an extensive online programme throughout 2020, this funding support will enable us to develop a programme of performances and community engagement work in response to the COVID crisis, and look at modifying delivery of theatre and performing arts in a COVID safe environment once the building starts to reopen in Spring 2021.

Steve Mannix, Mercury Executive Director, said of the grant:
“We are incredibly grateful to the Wolfson Foundation for this fantastic support. As one of the original foundation supporters of the Mercury Rising capital appeal back in 2017, Wolfson understand the impact the Mercury has on not just the local community, but also on UK regional theatre. To receive further support from the foundation at such a critical time is really valuable and will go some way to support us over the next twelve months as we look to safely welcome people back to theatre.

“This year we have come to really understand what a vital role the Mercury plays to the lives of people locally. Whilst we have had to make our survival our priority, it is important that we can now return bigger than ever before, with a vibrant offer for Colchester, the county and the region providing local activities and entertainment at the heart of our community.

“We will be able to offer a safe space for people to gather, whether it be for a coffee morning, an after-school activity, a holiday class, a space to work, or to enjoy our performance programme – this fund enables us to provide a safe and welcoming return to our spaces for all.”

Paul Ramsbottom, chief executive of the Wolfson Foundation, said, “We are delighted to provide this funding to the Mercury Theatre as one of 80 organisations across the UK backed by our Covid-19 Support Fund. This pandemic is a time of significant challenge and uncertainty for performing arts venues, and we hope our flexible funding shows solidarity as well as support for such a vital and dynamic organisation.”

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