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Fund set up to help heritage sector through Covid-19

Words: Laura Edgar
Berwick-upon-Tweed / Historic England

Historic England has launched a fund of up to £2 million to tackle the impact of coronavirus (Covid-19) on the heritage sector.

The fund is envisaged as a “safety net” for the sector – helping small heritage organisations to survive the immediate challenges and prepare them for recovery.

It follows the launch of a £50 million fund by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. This is also designed to alleviate immediate pressures over the next three to six months for those most in need – and to invest in essential digital skills across the sector.

Historic England developed the emergency fund after undertaking a survey of heritage organisations that highlighted the effect on the sector, particularly small organisations with 10 or fewer employees. It found that:

  • 77 per cent of survey respondents had lost business in the short term;
  • 59 per cent have been forced to postpone or cancel income-generating events;
  • 90 per cent of businesses felt able to keep going in the short term with government support schemes providing assistance; and
  • Craft workers and professionals such as architects, engineers and surveyors appear to be most vulnerable with more than four out of 10 concerned for their businesses and in need of additional support.

Historic England has invited applications from heritage organisations, self-employed contractors, third-sector organisations and voluntary groups that have been severely affected by the virus and require short-term emergency financial support to ensure their survival. Consideration will also be given to organisations that respond to the current crisis and help the sector to recover.

Duncan Wilson, chief executive at Historic England, said: “We know that coronavirus has hit everyone hard, including the heritage sector, and that there are many individuals and organisations that are really struggling for survival at the moment. The safeguarding of their livelihoods will also determine the survival of our most precious heritage. Many of the skills that are needed to protect our heritage are already in desperately short supply and if these skilled specialists go out of business during this difficult time, the hard truth is that some of our heritage will be lost forever.”    

Heritage minister Nigel Huddleston said the funding “is a very welcome addition to the unprecedented package of support from the government and will help support our heritage organisations through this challenging time”.

Applicants can seeks grants of up £25,000 to address financial difficulties arising from the virus. Grants of £50,000 are also available for projects and activities that reduce risks to heritage by providing information, resources and skills. 

Existing Historic England grant recipients are advised to get in contact with their individual project contacts to discuss what flexibility they might require at this time.

The deadline for new applications is midnight on 3 May 2020 and the funding for successful applications will be awarded from mid-May.

More information on how to apply can be found on the Historic England website.

Image credit | Historic England