A NEW database will provide Glastonbury Festival fans with unrivalled access to the history of the event.

To coincide with the 50th anniversary of the first ever Glastonbury Festival - which took place on September 19, 1970 - the V&A has revealed the new project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

It will create an online database that will document the past, present and future of the event, which is held at Worthy Farm, in Pilton.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world-renowned Festival was unable to celebrate its 50th anniversary this year at Worthy Farm.

Kate Bailey, senior curator at the V&A, said: “As home of the Glastonbury Festival archive, the V&A is incredibly excited by this project.

"It will allow us to increase public, digital access to the festival’s performance history, and to create research opportunities which trace the extraordinary creativity and impact of the Festival’s past, present and future.”

The V&A became the home of the festival archive and now, as the cultural and creative sector suffers one of the toughest times in recent history, the new project demonstrates the V&A and AHRC’s commitment to promoting the importance of the performing arts, Kate said.

Somerset County Gazette: Glastonbury Festival Pyramid Stage. Pic: Paul Jones
MEMORIES: Of Glastonbury. PICTURE: Paul Jones

The V&A's collection brings together posters, stage designs, costumes, interviews, films and other memorabilia to safeguard the history and enable the continuing documentation of the festival today.

As part of this work, the V&A has also collected personal memories from those that have attended the event.

Starting in June this year, the V&A announced a call for audience memories, and this will continue to form an important part of the archive as it grows in future years.

With funding for the project confirmed from the AHRC, part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), work will now begin to make these artefacts, stories and the history of Glastonbury Festival accessible via the new digital database.

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The aim is for the open source, fully searchable database to be available to researchers and the public in 2021, enabling users to navigate and trace the rich performance history of the festival across time, stages and performers. 

Emily Eavis, Glastonbury Festival co-organiser, said: “We are so happy that this announcement coincides with our 50th birthday on Saturday.

"The memories and experiences enjoyed and shared by festival-goers are what makes Glastonbury so special, and I'm so pleased that such a wealth of fascinating content will now be accessible to everyone.”

Somerset County Gazette:
HISTORY: Q Daily newspapers produced during the 2009 Glastonbury Festival. PICTURE: Paul Jones

Professor Christopher Smith, executive chair of the AHRC, added: “We are delighted to announce this exciting collaboration with the V&A to bring to the widest possible audience the performance history of Glastonbury Festival, a unique social history and an invaluable archive of modern music.

"The digital database has huge potential to engage new audiences with the Festival’s fascinating development over 50 years.

"It will also provide an exciting resource and model for other events and institutions as they look to archive for posterity their festival and performance events.

"This project is part of our wider commitment to working with museums, galleries, libraries and archives to find innovative new ways to bring the riches of the UK’s heritage to the world.”