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South East museums through to next round of Arts Council's Capital Grants programme

Four organisations from across the South East are now one step closer to realising their capital ambitions thanks to their success at stage one of the Arts Council's large scale capital programme.

Mercury Theatre Colchester, The Story Museum (Oxford), Tunbridge Wells Museum & Art Gallery and Writers' Centre Norwich have now been invited to apply to stage two. If these applications are successful, they will receive a combined investment of £7.8million.

The Arts Council's large scale capital grants support organisations to improve existing buildings to make them more economically and environmentally sustainable, and to give arts organisations the right buildings and equipment to support the delivery of their work.

Hedley Swain, Area Director, South East, Arts Council England, said: "We are delighted to support these organisations in taking the first step towards realising their capital ambitions. Each of them has put forward exciting plans that will not only support their long term resilience, but also help them to develop their offer for artists and audiences. We look forward to seeing their ideas develop as they put together their stage two applications."

The Projects

The Story Museum will transform its premises from an interim state into a building that is fit for purpose. The work includes the creation of a 140-seater performance space, a learning space and resource room, external walkways and an immersive 'Enchanted Library'. The development will significantly improve the visitor experience and dramatically increase the range of activities The Story Museum can offer.

Writers' Centre Norwich will develop Dragon Hall, its Grade 1 listed home, by building a new wing and developing the existing space. The work will create a new writers' residence, an events space, an Urban Writers' Colony, learning spaces and enhanced digital resources. The project will help expand Writers' Centre Norwich's work to support writers, readers and translators to be creative, successful and productive.

Mercury Theatre Colchester will redevelop its buildings and site, improving and extending its audience and production facilities whilst also creating a learning and participation centre that will help extend its educational and community work. All areas of the building will be fully accessible for the first time. The project will help support Mercury Theatre Colchester's role as a producing theatre and support creative professionals and the local community to take their ideas to the next level.

Tunbridge Wells Museum and Art Gallery's Artscore project will create dedicated arts spaces for all users of Tunbridge Wells Borough's new Cultural & Learning Hub. It will ensure that the arts remain at the heart of this wider development, ensuring the Hub fully integrates the museum, the library, art and learning.

The stage two applications, which must be submitted within the next 18 months, will allow the Arts Council to assess the projects against criteria including long-term sustainability and resilience, the potential for partnership funding, and whether the organisation is able to manage and deliver the work proposed.

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