Arts Council approve investment in Polka

January 7, 2016

Polka Theatre for children is overjoyed by news that Arts Council England has approved the first stage of its application for a grant of £2.5m towards the proposed £5.1m redevelopment of its premises in Wimbledon. This is the first major investment in the building since it opened its doors in 1979.

Polka pioneered the idea of a theatre dedicated to children – a stimulating, fully integrated venue, including performance spaces, indoor and outdoor interactive play areas, family-friendly café and activities – a place where children’s imaginations can take flight. Since opening, Polka has attracted over 3.4m children, teachers, parents and carers from across London and the South East and its productions are staged nationally and internationally.

Following its success at stage one of the large scale capital grant application process, Polka has been awarded an initial grant of £226,098 to support the development of its plans for stage two. If successful, the full £2.5m will be granted towards the proposal.

Polka is one of only 16 organisations across the country, and one of just three in London, invited to apply to the second stage of the funding programme in this round.

The planned redevelopment will be instrumental in helping Polka redefine and improve its visitor experience and provide an environment in which artistic excellence can flourish. Key features will include the creation of a National Centre for Early Years Theatre including a new auditorium for the under 6s and a multipurpose rehearsal space as well as a new Creative Learning Studio. The plans also support Polka’s desire to increase its sustainability and financial resilience.

Polka Theatre Chief Executive & Artistic Director, Peter Glanville:

“This is wonderful news; it is not just a vote of confidence in Polka, but also in the importance of investing in the arts, artists and venues dedicated to children. We believe passionately in the power of live theatre to spark the imagination in children from their earliest years. We are committed to creating inspiring new theatre and learning opportunities and, working with our partners across the country and overseas, to making these accessible to as many children as possible. 

“Not only will Polka’s premises benefit from a major renovation, it will enable us to reimagine what a theatre venue can be for children and artists working in this sector. The Arts Council’s commitment will play a major role in helping us make our vision for Polka and our young audiences a reality.” 

Joyce Wilson, London Area Director, Arts Council England:
Polka Theatre’s proposal aims to consolidate its reputation as a leading venue for children’s theatre by providing enhanced facilities for the creation and promotion of its work. It is vital that we invest in our young people not just as audiences of today but as both audiences and artists of tomorrow. We look forward to seeing the second stage of its application so that we can help to get this exciting project off the ground, and start to see the benefits it will bring to the borough of Merton and beyond.”

Click here to download a PDF version of the press release from Polka.
Click here to see the news on the Arts Council England Website. 


For all press enquiries please contact:
Rosie Curtis on 020 8545 8354 or email
Chris O’Kelly on 020 8545 8328 or email

High-res images of Polka and a number of productions are available for download here: