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Mercury Rising FAQs

Mercury Rising is aiming to raise the final £300,000 of a £9.8m extension and refurbishment of the Mercury Theatre - transforming and safeguarding the building for future generations.

Got a question about Mercury Rising? Take a look at our FAQs below!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Wouldn’t public funding be better spent on other public services?

The major sources of funding supporting this project are not accessible to the NHS, homelessness organisations or other public services. These are services which are important to us too, and we wouldn’t want to redirect money away from them.

The Mercury is about more than just shows for audiences. The Mercury is a major local employer, and for every £1 of public funding the theatre generates £4 for the local economy – supporting jobs in retail, accommodation, catering and transport.

The Mercury is your theatre – built by the people of Colchester and Essex, for the community. Its performances are affordable and attractive to people from all over Colchester and Essex, and from all walks and backgrounds. Thousands of people from low income or vulnerable backgrounds enjoy a night out at the Mercury every year.

The investment should also be seen in the wider context of the growth of the creative industries in Colchester – this is part of a wider plan which has seen the Creative Quarter, the Creative Business Centre, the University of Essex Knowledge Gateway and other creative businesses flourish, bringing new life and jobs to abandoned buildings and areas.

Without public support, the Theatre would not be able to keep pace with investment needed to stay up to date, the education and outreach programmes would close, and ticket prices could double. The Mercury is proud to be a theatre for everyone, and a place where Colchester can meet – we don’t want that to change.

Our Deputy Executive Director, Robin Cantrill-Fenwick, debated this question on BBC Essex in 2017:

Q. Will the Mercury become more focused on national profile, rather than local audiences?

Absolutely not. We have a proud local history, we are an active part of the Colchester community today, and are completely committed to our loyal audiences past, present, and future. We want to see our local audience continue to grow.

Q. Is the Borough Council’s support dependent on the current political leadership?

All major political parties locally have publicly stated their support for this project.

Q. Can the Mercury credibly claim to be a regional hub, or have national significance?

Yes. In the 2017 The Stage national awards, the Mercury Theatre was one of the final three theatres shortlisted for the Regional Theatre of the Year award alongside Bristol Old Vic and Sheffield Theatres, both highly respected in the industry.

In 2016 the theatre hosted a Cameron Mackintosh Composer in Residence, and co-produced with Cameron Mackintosh in 2014. In the past three years the Mercury has twice been chosen for highly competitive industry placements – from StageOne, and the Regional Theatre Young Director Scheme as well as working with producers to create seven nationally touring productions (Betty Blue Eyes, Dial M for Murder, The Smallest Show on Earth, Clybourne Park, End of the Rainbow, Spamalot and The Weir).

The Mercury’s industry and national profile is growing, and this is an excellent opportunity to capitalise on that momentum.

Q. Will the theatre close during the works?

Most of the work has taken place without full closure of the theatre, however from May 2019 onwards, the building will be closed until the redevelopment is finished in September 2020.

During this time the Mercury will present an exciting season in at pop-up venue Mercury at Abbey Field – find out more on this here.

Q. Will there be an increase in noise from the new building?

While we expect and hope that the new building will be busier, every effort will be made to manage noise responsibly – we have an excellent track record in this area, and the utmost respect for our neighbours.

Q. Will the construction be noisy?

Most construction noise will be confined to the back of the building, with the construction of a new production block. During this period we will establish a consultative group of neighbouring businesses including Colchester Arts Centre, and provide a hotline in the event that construction noise becomes disruptive.

Q. Will the Mercury’s name change?

There are no plans to change the name of the theatre.

Q. The new building will include an all day café – does Colchester need another café?

As part of the project we have conducted research in to the local market, and we know that there are many catering outlets in town. We believe we can provide something new and distinctive, not on offer from other venues.

Q. Will any trees be felled?

Trees are an important part of the Balkerne Gate landscape, we value them, and many of the trees surrounding the theatre are the subject of tree protection orders.

We do intend to remove a small number of trees in order to improve access to Blue Badge parking bays, and are in discussions to offset the environmental impact.  A full Arboricultural Impact Assessment is available as part of the planning application

Q. Will the building work disturb the Falcon family perching at the top of the Jumbo Water Tower?

No. The Falcons have brought many excited visitors to the area, and are doing wonders for controlling the pigeon population!  They are being monitored by the Essex Wildlife Trust and we will ensure we are fully compliant with any necessary protection orders or regulations when construction commences in phases in early 2018 and 2019.

Still got questions?

Please contact us and we will be happy to help!

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