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Glastonbury, Nimax Theatres boosted in latest £400m from culture fund

Some 2,700 cultural and heritage organisations in the UK are to share £400m in grants and loans to support the sector recover and reopen after COVID-19.

The latest tranche of money from the £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund that was unveiled last July includes £170m in repayable finance for organisations including the National Theatre and Royal Shakespeare Company.

In addition, a further £81m in new loans are being announced for 23 nationally and internationally significant organisations receiving support in excess of £1m each, including English Heritage Trust, The Lowry and Sage Gateshead.

The English Heritage Trust, which cares for 420 historic monuments, buildings, objects and places, will receive £23.4m to cover Covid-related losses and support investment in essential maintenance.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “Our record-breaking Culture Recovery Fund has already helped thousands of culture and heritage organisations across the country survive the biggest crisis they’ve ever faced.

“Now we’re staying by their side as they prepare to welcome the public back through their doors – helping our cultural gems plan for reopening and thrive in the better times ahead.”

The funding also includes £900,000 for Glastonbury Festival, which has been cancelled two years running, to help it to run its two smaller events this year, as well as to carry the festival through to 2022. The festival will host a ticketed global livestream from its site at Worthy Farm on May 22, and organiser Emily Eavis has unveiled proposed plans to host a concert on the festival site this summer.

Eavis said: “We’re extremely grateful to be offered a significant award from the Culture Recovery Fund. After losing millions from the cancellation of our last two festivals, this grant will make a huge difference in helping to secure our future.”

Meanwhile, grants worth almost £60m have been awarded to help theatres plan for reopening from the West End’s Criterion Theatre to the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre.

Nimax Theatres, which operates six sites in the West End including the Palace Theatre, the Lyric and the Apollo Theatre, will receive £898,784 from the second round of the Culture Recovery Fund. This funding will support the theatres’ preparations to reopen to audiences, such as deep cleaning, Covid-testing equipment and training for staff.

This brings the UK government’s total investment across grants, capital and repayable finance from the Culture Recovery Fund so far to more than £1.2bn across over 5,000 individual cultural and heritage organisations and sites.

Stephen Fry, chair of Criterion Theatre Trust, said: “The Criterion Theatre Trust is just delighted to have received CRF second round grant funding in support of our plans to re-open in May 2021.

“Offering live theatre to a socially distanced audience presents a financial challenge, but the support extended through the Culture Recovery Fund is a boost that allows us to re-open in a Covid-safe way. The Trust will be able to continue its work and, when that glorious and happy time comes, to welcome audiences back to our beautiful theatre, to enjoy once again the irreplaceable and unforgettable experience of live theatre.”

Comedy clubs, music venues and multi-purpose stages continue to be supported in the latest round of funding awarded by Arts Council England.

Award-winning Brighton venue Komedia, which usually programmed over 700 events a year to provide a platform for performers launching their careers, will receive £123,500 to resume socially distanced music, comedy and theatre performances. Iconic venues like the Camden Roundhouse are also being supported with awards of £1.5m to welcome back audiences to live events.

Museums across the country have also benefited from more than £25m in this latest round of funding. The National Football Museum in Manchester will receive £239,721, building on the £515,965 it received from the first round.

Nearly all of the original £1.57bn has now been allocated, with over £1.2bn in grants and repayable finance offered to more than 5,000 individual organisations and sites, and further grants to be finalised over the coming weeks. £188m has been given to the devolved administrations and £100m has been given to national cultural institutions in England and the English Heritage Trust.

At last month’s Budget, the Chancellor announced a £300m boost for the Culture Recovery Fund, as part of a wider £408m package for arts and culture. Further details on the third round of funding will be announced later in the year.

Image: Andrew Egerton / CC BY 2.0 / Edited for size