Colchester Borough Council (CBC) is delighted to announce that it has agreed a new four-year funding cycle for its strategic arts partners. The Mercury Theatre, Colchester Arts Centre and newly crowned Art Fund Museum of The Year, Firstsite, are currently funded by CBC on a three-year basis – but this new four-year agreement will contribute further to the future financial stability of the borough’s cultural institutions.
Coming at a time when theatres, arts venues and galleries are experiencing great challenges and uncertainty, this news provides them with the financial security to focus and bounce back stronger than ever after the global pandemic. It will also bring CBC’s ongoing funding commitment into line with the Arts Council England (ACE), National Portfolio Organisations (NPO) funding cycle, providing future security and clarity, and strengthening the partnership between CBC, ACE and Colchester’s leading arts organisations.
The new funding agreement will come into effect from the financial year 2023/2024 and will play a major part in supporting CBC’s new Cultural Strategy. The new strategy is currently being developed in partnership with CBC’s strategic arts partners and will grow the already vibrant and thriving cultural offering in the Borough, increase participation in cultural events, and ensure that cultural events are accessible to all residents, well into the future.
Councillor Darius Laws, Portfolio Holder for Economy, Business and Heritage for Colchester Borough Council said: “We are fortunate to have exceptional cultural institutions in Colchester and the work that they do to develop, nurture, entertain and inspire audiences and future generations is critical to enriching life here in Britain’s First Roman City.
“Not only does this new funding agreement put Colchester firmly on the cultural map but it is also an important acknowledgement that, in the face of a changed retail environment, our old town centres are now cultural destinations with experience-led entertainment and enrichment opportunities.”
Anthony Roberts, Colchester Art Centre, said: “Our business is so full of change and uncertainty at the best of times. Throw in a global pandemic and 18 months unexpected closure hardly helps either. This news is a huge boost to morale. Another little piece in our journey back to recovery.”
Steve Mannix, Executive Director of the Mercury Theatre, added: “This is great news. The impact of the pandemic has had a catastrophic impact on us all – but particularly the arts, culture and leisure sectors. As we re-emerge, we look forward to continuing to work in partnership with Colchester Borough Council to ensure that we can contribute to the re-building of our local economy and the health and well-being of our wonderful town.”
Sally Shaw, Director of Firstsite, said: “Colchester Borough Council’s support for culture and creativity is exemplary. They have continued to support our creative work through thick and thin, demonstrating their clear understanding of how important art and creativity – in all its forms – is for a happy and healthy society. There is no more urgent time than now, as we work together to recover from Covid-19, to create spaces for relaxation, contemplation and inspiration to help us all create new solutions to help shape a new and better Colchester.”
Hazel Edwards, South East Area Director, Arts Council England, added: “Arts Council England is delighted with Colchester Borough Council's decision to commit to a four-year period of funding for Firstsite, Colchester Arts Centre and The Mercury Theatre. Local authorities are hugely important partners for the Arts Council and this commitment illustrates just how important arts and culture are to Colchester and its communities.
“The last year has been hugely challenging and this long-term financial support will help build on the impact of the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund as arts and cultural organisations form an essential part of our collective recovery from the pandemic.”