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Last Updated: Friday, 18 July, 2003, 12:09 GMT 13:09 UK
Cash lifeline for glass centre
National Glass Centre
The National Glass Centre opened five years ago
A struggling tourist attraction in the north-east of England has been granted more than 700,000 to help shore up its finances.

The 17m National Glass Centre in Sunderland has had a tough first five years, with low visitor number putting its long-term future under threat.

Now the Arts Council has agreed to provide the grant over two years.

The money will be spent on projects including better exhibitions and displays, marketing, and bringing in guest artists.

The news come just two months after the centre appointed a new chief executive.

A recent report from the National Audit Office said the centre was failing to attract enough visitors.

But chief executive Vicky Nicholls says the tourist attraction has proved itself deserving of more grant aid.

She said: "We have demonstrated that we have got a future and have a reason to be here.

"The money will go to improving interactive and educational facilities."

When the centre opened five years ago it was hailed as a celebration of Sunderland's heritage in the glass-making industry.

About 75,000 people were expected to visit the attraction every year, but that target is currently falling short by 10,000.

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