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Newbury's Watermill and Corn Exchange receive share of £300m Culture Recovery Fund

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'Theatres still face critical times,' says arts centre director

The Corn Exchange and The Watermill are among some 2,700 cultural and creative organisations to receive a share of more than £300m in the latest round of support announced last week by the Culture Secretary.

The Corn Exchange has received a grant of £120,000 to help the organisation recover and reopen and The Watermill £197,646.

Other West Berkshire organisations receiving support are Cirque Berserk Limited £124,680, Fast Familiar Ltd £32,400, Rabble Theatre £72,500 and Berkshire Maestros £375,240.

Corn Exchange director Katy Griffiths said: ‘We are very pleased to receive this news and this funding will support some of our activities over the coming months.

“The theatre industry still faces a critical time while social distancing requirements restrict us from bringing full audiences together and the ongoing support we have received from our local community has been vital in helping us through this period.

“As we begin to reopen we are looking forward to welcoming audiences back and being able to share creative experiences again."

The Watermill's artistic and chief executive Paul Hart said of the news: “We are extremely grateful to DCMS and Arts Council England for awarding The Watermill Theatre a grant in the second round of Culture Recovery Fund which is announced today. It offers renewed optimism as we work towards reopening the theatre after a hugely difficult year.

"We are confident that thanks to this funding and with the continued support of our loyal audiences we will bounce back to produce bold and imaginative theatre, and we look forward to welcoming audiences to our unique theatre once again. Buoyed by this investment, our commitment to celebrate theatre, inspire creativity and connect communities is stronger than ever.”

Berkshire Maestros CEO Dawn Wren said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted heavily on our budgets and we welcome the funding as recognition of the important role music plays in education and wellbeing for all young people. This grant will enable us to rebuild the group activities and events that we have missed so much, and to open up new musical opportunities for children who haven’t yet benefitted from learning an instrument or making music with others.”

More than £800m in grants and loans have already been awarded to support almost 3,800 cinemas, performance venues, museums, heritage sites and other cultural organisations dealing with the immediate challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. This second round of awards will help organisations to look ahead to the spring and summer and plan for reopening and recovery. After months of closures and cancellations to contain the virus and save lives, this funding will be a much-needed helping hand for organisations in the months ahead.

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 grants awarded are from a fund held back last year to ensure the Culture Recovery Fund could continue to help organisations in need as the public health picture changed. The funding has been awarded by Arts Council England, as well as Historic England and National Lottery Heritage Fund and the British Film Institute.

More reaction in next week's Newbury Weekly News.

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