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Covid-19: Emergency fund for UK heritage

Words: Laura Edgar
Funding / iStock-878953966

The National Lottery Heritage Fund has announced an emergency £50 million fund to support heritage during the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.

The new fund is to address the immediate pressures that occur over the next three to six months for those most in need – as well as investing in essential digital skills across the sector. 

It will provide expertise in areas such as digital fundraising, use of social media and communications, and running online events and activities.

The money will be diverted away from planned new grants. All new grant applications have been halted.

Grants of between £3,000 and £50,000 will be available to organisations that have received funding in the past and are either current recipients or still under contract following a previous grant.

Applications will be open to all heritage organisations, such as historical sites, industrial and maritime heritage, parks, and libraries.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund will also continue to support 2,500 projects already being delivered across the UK, which adds up to a £1.1 billion commitment.

According to a survey* conducted by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, 82 per cent of respondents reported a high or moderate risk to their organisation’s long-term viability. It also found that 46 per cent of organisations would not survive for longer than six months.

Eilish McGuinness, executive director, business delivery, at the National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “We know that circumstances are incredibly challenging for our heritage community right now and we want to do everything we can to support them. We hope this new emergency fund and our investment in digital capability will be a lifeline for organisations affected.

“Heritage has an essential role to play in making communities better places to live, creating economic prosperity and supporting health and well-being. All of these are going to be vitally important as we emerge from this current crisis.”

Other support is being offered by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

  • An additional £1.2 million will be invested in the Digital Skills for Heritage initiative to help the sector through the crisis and beyond.
  • Round two delivery awards will continue throughout the crisis on a competitive basis as usual.
  • Provision of bespoke advice and support via its local teams, and in some cases, specialist mentor support, will continue.

Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England, said the organisation is planning emergency financial support. Details would be announced “soon”, he added.

* The survey consulted 1,250 heritage organisations.

Image credit | iStock