Polka Theatre has announced it will receive an Arts Council grant of £2.5 million towards its capital development project.

The funding marks the first time the children's theatre has undergone major redevelopment since its opening in 1979. Almost 40 years since its opening, Polka Theatre is the UK's only theatre venue producing work exclusively for children, from babies up to 12 year-olds.

The project, called Future Polka, will see a temporary closure of the building when work begins in February 2019. The total cost of the initiative is £6.5 million, 60 per cent of which is now in place. With further funding from trusts and donors, the theatre is on track to achieve 90 per cent of its £4 million match funding target by December.

Artistic director and chief executive, Peter Glanville said today: "Since the theatre opened nearly 40 years ago, Polka has been at the forefront of providing wide-reaching and imaginative children's theatre and a dedicated venue for young audiences.

"We hope that some of Polka's many past and current visitors will also pledge their support, so we can undertake much-needed improvements to our premises and continue to offer a unique theatre environment where children can play, discover and create and let their imaginations run wild."

Arts Council England's Tarek Iskander said: "Proposed capital plans will see [Polka] become a National Centre for Early Years' Theatre in response to an increasing demand for this genre of work.

"We also welcome their plans for new rehearsal and development studios. These will facilitate Polka's professional development programme for theatremakers who want to make a career in this sector and address the need for more inclusive and diverse children's theatre."