Iconic UK arts institutions get £ 75m virus funding

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Iconic UK arts institutions get £ 75m virus funding
The Old Vic theatre in London.

LONDON (AFP).- The British government on Saturday announced a £75 million (82 million euros) rescue package to save 35 cultural institutions hit by the coronavirus pandemic, including London's iconic Globe Theatre.

Grants of between £1 million and £3 million will be distributed to each of the organisations, and will be drawn from the £1.57 billion culture rescue fund announced in July to safeguard the arts.

The Old Vic theatre in London, founded in 1818, and the Globe, a life-size replica of the 1599 Shakespeare theatre, built on the south bank of the Thames near its original site, will both receive support.

More than a million people annually visit the Globe, which also includes a library, archives and a candlelit replica of a 17th century Jacobean theatre.

But 70 percent of the funds are earmarked for cultural venues outside the British capital, such as the Crucible in Sheffield and the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester, the Ministry of Culture said in a statement.

"These places and organisations are irreplaceable parts of our heritage and what make us the cultural superpower we are," minister Oliver Dowden said in a statement.

Globe Executive Director Neil Constable and Artistic Director Michelle Terry called the nearly £3 million grant a "lifeline".

"We...are hugely grateful and relieved to receive the maximum grant available," they said in a statement.

The theatre hopes to reopen in the spring of 2021.

Britain imposed a full lockdown in March at the beginning of the first wave of the pandemic, which has claimed more than 44,000 lives, the worst death toll in Europe.

The Globe warned in May that it might not survive without help, and a parliamentary report in July highlighted the "existential threat" to the cultural sector, which employs 700,000 people.

In 2018, the 1,100 British theatres employed 290,000 people, with 34 million people spending £1.28 billion on tickets.

© Agence France-Presse

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