Heritage Fund provides £50m in direct relief to UK heritage projects  

The National Lottery has revealed that its ‘Heritage Emergency Fund’ has provided £50 million in direct support to 950 organisations across the UK to help cope with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Heritage Fund, the independent body charged with distributing National Lottery funds to UK heritage and cultural projects, has provided a breakdown of its £50 million ‘Emergency Fund’ directive launched at the start of April.

Open to all communities and organisations involved in maintaining UK cultural projects, the Heritage Fund revealed that it accepted 77% of all applications received.

The highest proportion of heritage grants (29%) were issued to organisations managing historic buildings and monuments. The funding was closely followed by grants to ‘community networks’ such as theatre groups and cultural associations (26%) helping support the UK’s art and creative societies.   

Meanwhile, museums, libraries and archives received 19%, whilst natural heritage sites secured 14% with historic industrial, maritime and transport heritage sites receiving 10% of funding.

Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “This is the biggest heritage crisis I have seen in my lifetime. Every area of heritage we support has been severely affected, from wildlife trusts and gardens to museums and historic railways. Many of the places we know and love faced permanent closure within weeks of the start of lockdown. 

“We realised that heritage would need significant support to survive, and we have worked incredibly hard to provide a lifeline and get grants out of the door in record time. We cannot save everyone and challenges still lie ahead, but we are grateful that, thanks to National Lottery players, we have been able to help so many.”  

In its breakdown, the Heritage Fund showcased a number of key projects that it had supported during the crisis period including 

  • £220,000 for ‘Glastonbury Abbey’ helping support the maintenance of its grounds and ruins
  • £250,000 to ‘Wicksteed Park’ in Northamptonshire helping cover staff costs to maintain animal and wildlife welfare
  • £55,000 to ‘Mourne Heritage Trust’ helping preserve natural heritage in the Mourne Mountains in Northern Ireland
  • £50,000 to Scotland’s ‘Strathspey Railway’ to continue essential maintenance of heritage trains and engines
  • £50,000 to the ‘Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales’ to help wardens continue to care for rare seabirds that nest on Skomer and Skokholm islands.

Focusing all resources on overcoming COVID-19 crisis, the Heritage Fund revealed that it has halted any National Lottery Grants for Heritage until 2021.

Supporting UK heritage organisations and key workers, the Heritage Fund has accelerated development of its £1.5 million ‘Digital Skills for Heritageinitiative – providing direct guidance ‘to support organisations pivoting to digital – many for the first time’. 

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