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UK’s Glastonbury Festival, cinemas, museums get government cash to survive COVID-19

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FILE PHOTO: Revellers dance as the sun sets during the Glastonbury Festival
Revellers are seen at the Glastonbury Festival at Worthy Farm in Somerset, Britain, Jun 25, 2015. (Photo: Reuters/Dylan Martinez)

(Updated: )

LONDON: Glastonbury Festival will join 2,700 museums, theatres, cinemas and arts venues in receiving a share of £400 million in grants and loans to help them survive the COVID-19 pandemic, the British government announced on Friday (Apr 2).

Entertainment venues across Britain were forced to close last March because of the COVID-19 crisis and while some partially reopened last summer, many have remained shut since then.

Last July, the government unveiled a £1.57 billion (US$2.2 billion) Culture Recovery Fund (CRF) package of grants and loans, and on Friday detailed where the latest tranche of funding would be spent.

Among the recipients is Glastonbury, the largest greenfield music festival in the world, which has been forced to cancel for two years running. It will receive £900,000 to help carry it through to 2022.

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“This grant will make a huge difference in helping to secure our future,” founder Michael Eavis and daughter Emily said in a statement.

Tens of millions of pounds have been made available to theatres, while the English Heritage Trust, which looks after 420 historic monuments, buildings, and objects, will receive £23.4 million.

The British Film Institute has also awarded £6.5 million to help independent cinemas.

The government says the CRF has helped protect more than 75,000 jobs and ensure thousands of organisations survive the COVID-19 crisis.

“Now we’re staying by their side as they prepare to welcome the public back through their doors,” culture minister Oliver Dowden said.

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Under the government’s pandemic “roadmap”, it is hoped many venues will be able to reopen to live audiences from mid-May and the latest funding is designed to help theatres, museums and comedy clubs make necessary preparations.

The government was accused last month of being too slow to hand out CRF money to recipients, with parliament’s spending watchdog saying only £495 million of the first £1 billion tranche had been paid out by late February.

The culture department said nearly all the £1.57 billion had now been allocated.

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