Liverpool’s Royal Court is a step closer to starting the next phase of its redevelopment after support from the Arts Council.

The St George’s Quarter landmark is one of 16 organisations nationwide, of which six are in the north, who have been invited to apply to the second stage of Arts Council England’s large capital grants funding programme.

Royal Court bosses will need to submit detailed design and development plans for ‘Act 3’ of the grade II listed theatre’s refurbishment.

But if they meet strict criteria – including long-term sustainability, potential for partnership funding, and whether they are able to manage and deliver the work – the theatre could be in line for around £2m Arts Council funding.

Royal Court chief executive Gillian Miller said today: “This is great news for us and for our audience. The next stage of the funding application is going to be difficult, but this news will allow us to draw up detailed plans for Act 3″.

“Arts Council England has been very supportive and we hope this will be the start of a long working relationship.”

The Royal Court’s £11m renovation scheme has been designed by Paul Monaghan of architects Allford Hall Monaghan Morris.

Work undertaken during two ‘Acts’ so far includes the refurbishment of the auditorium, and the recently completed new foyer, terrace, lift, circle bar, circle toilets and new larger box office and stage door area.

Act 3 will cost £2.9m, and will include the building of a new 150-seat studio space in the basement which will be used for small scale comedy and music events, as well as small theatre productions which could then be developed for the main auditorium. Also during Act 3, renovation work backstage will improve dressing rooms and technical equipment.