Marking a milestone in the heritage sector's recovery

Ros Kerslake
Our CEO reflects on the difference our new Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage will make to the sector's recovery, and the importance of that recovery to the UK's people and communities.

I believe and sincerely hope that today marks a key milestone in the heritage sector’s recovery from the hardships and tests it has faced as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

In partnership with our colleagues at Historic England, we are delivering the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage. This £92million fund will help support the thousands of brilliant and diverse heritage organisations across England that comprise our sector. Applications opened today.

Positive and lasting change

We know that heritage places and projects create positive and lasting change for people in the communities where they live and that their loss would be terribly damaging and deeply felt. So I’d like to recognise the investment made by Government through our friends at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). This is a generous settlement for heritage, for which I am thankful. Heritage organisations across the country are struggling to survive these most testing and unprecedented of times and assistance is urgently needed if we are to mitigate the worst effects of the crisis.  

My team’s role at The National Lottery Heritage Fund is to distribute the funds that we know will:

  • safeguard heritage for our children and theirs
  • bring communities together to preserve memories, reflecting their unique and individual histories
  • nurture our environment
  • save heritage jobs

My promise to you is that I and my team at The National Lottery Heritage Fund will work as hard as possible to ensure the Culture Recovery Fund money reaches and helps the sector, both widely and expediently.  

Grants can be applied for immediately, in amounts ranging from £10,000 to £3m. In recognition of the urgent need for money to be distributed, the funding window is open for a relatively short time, with the deadline for applications set for midday on Monday 17 August.  

Please do read the guidance on eligibility and how to apply as soon as you can. Priority will be given to heritage applicants with a track record of sustainable operation, who now face having to cease business by year’s end, but who can demonstrate that recovery funding will support financial viability.

Why heritage matters

I fear that the long-term effects of this dreadful period remain, as yet, unknown. I wish fervently that we could ensure the survival of every heritage site, project or experience. While I suspect that this is not possible, I know we will stretch and strain every sinew trying our best.

Our heritage work takes what is important about our past, protects it and plays it forward for future generations. We may not always be proud of our history, but it is always important to acknowledge it even if it offends, and celebrate it when it does not. If we get through this period of crisis I know that we can build a more resilient heritage sector together.

Heritage is important to our economic wellbeing. We know that investing in our heritage assets pays off and yields real financial returns for people, for communities and for the country.

Heritage plays an important and often under-recognised role too in international relations. It brings international visitors to our country by the millions and fosters friendship and cooperation.

Above all heritage is deeply human. It is available to all and welcomes everyone. Heritage anchors our communities, provides a neutral space to discuss opposing views and settle conflicts, offers a place to learn or build our skills and much more besides.

Post COVID-19, the heritage sector will have to adjust I’m sure. It will need to modernise and to embrace the new technologies that will both widen access and enrich realities. I see an exciting future for our sector, focused, newly resilient, reinvented. A future in which we continue to make our local communities better places to live, continue to provide the experiences that improve our wellbeing and in which we confidently make the case for our wonderful heritage.

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