Historic England has launched an emergency fund of up to £2m to help tackle the impact of coronavirus on the heritage sector
The aim of the emergency fund is to extend the safety net as far as possible for the heritage sector by helping small organisations both to survive the immediate challenges posed by the pandemic and to prepare for recovery.
Historic England has developed the COVID-19 emergency fund in response to its own comprehensive survey of heritage organisations. This survey revealed the serious impact of coronavirus on the sector, particularly on small organisations (10 employees or fewer).
77% of respondents reported they had lost business in the short term, while 59% had been forced to postpone or cancel income-generating events.
Whilst the impact of coronavirus has been serious, Government support schemes are providing assistance and 90% of businesses felt able to keep going in the short term. Craft workers and professionals such as architects, engineers and surveyors appear to be most vulnerable with more than four out of ten concerned for their businesses and in need of additional support.
These small businesses are crucial to the operation of England’s heritage sector, which generates an estimated £7.1bn in GVA to the economy. The sector employs 100,000 construction workers (including specialised craftspeople), 6,000 archaeologists and 24,000 architects, engineers and quantity surveyors.
Emergency fund applications
Historic England is inviting applications from heritage organisations, self-employed contractors, third-sector organisations and voluntary groups that have been severely affected by the impact of coronavirus and which need additional short-term emergency financial support to ensure their survival.
The organisation will also consider supporting projects and activities that respond to the current crisis and contribute to recovery in the heritage sector.
The fund is designed to complement the measures already put in place by the government, as well as the National Lottery Heritage Fund’s recently announced £50m emergency fund.
Duncan Wilson, Historic England’s chief executive, 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, added: “This funding from Historic England 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.
“This will allow the sector to carry out important work to protect our heritage at a time when people must follow the government instruction to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.”
Applicants are invited to apply for grants of up to £25,000 to address financial difficulties arising from coronavirus. 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 should 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.