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Arts of the UK 2020: Old Royal Naval College receives lifeline grant from Government’s £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund

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LONDON – Almost 450 heritage organisations in England, including the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich, have been awarded cash from the first round of the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage. Grants of up to £1 million will deliver a lifeline for the heritage sector in England with further support to follow and larger grants for capital projects awarded through the Heritage Stimulus Fund. The grants are the first major tranche of funding from the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund.

The Old Royal Naval College is one of 445 heritage organisations across the country set to receive a lifesaving financial boost from the Government thanks to the £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund to help them through the Covid-19 pandemic.

445 organisations will share £103 million, including the Old Royal Naval College, to help restart vital reconstruction work and maintenance on cherished heritage sites, keeping venues open and supporting those working in the sector.

The Old Royal Naval College’s request for just under £1 million was successful, and will allow the iconic heritage site to continue to innovate and develop their public programming, learning activities and interpretation to better tell and share the stories of the site.

This vital funding is from the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage and the Heritage Stimulus Fund – funded by Government and administered at arm’s length by Historic England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Both funds are part of the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund which is designed to secure the future of Britain’s museums, galleries, theatres, independent cinemas, heritage sites and music venues with emergency grants and loans.

433 organisations will receive a share of £67 million from the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage to help with costs for operating, reopening and recovery. This includes famous heritage sites across the country, from Wentworth Woodhouse in Yorkshire to Blackpool’s Winter Gardens, Blyth Tall Ship to the Severn Valley Railway, the International Bomber Command Centre in Lincolnshire to the Piecehall in Halifax. The funds will save sites that are a source of pride for communities across the country.

12 organisations, including English Heritage, The Landmark Trust, Historic Royal Palaces and the Canal and River Trust, will receive £34 million from the Heritage Stimulus Fund to restart construction and maintenance on cherished heritage sites to preserve visitor attractions and protect livelihoods for some of the most vulnerable heritage specialists and contractors in the sector.

The Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF) has also been awarded a grant from the Culture Recovery Fund through Historic England. The AHF will use the funding to support charities and social enterprises occupying historic buildings to develop new business plans and strategies for organisations affected by the pandemic.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden says: “As a nation it is essential that we preserve our heritage and celebrate and learn from our past. This massive stimulus package will protect for future generations, save jobs and help us prepare for a cultural bounce-back post-Covid.”

Matthew Mees, Chief Executive of the Old Royal Naval College says: “Covid-19 halted the momentum we had built following major investment in the Painted Hall. The highly significant reduction of admissions, retail, events hire and location filming income saw us instantly lose two thirds of our annual income. The crisis ha provided us with an opportunity to innovate in the way we engage with our audiences, moving to online virtual tours and storytelling and hosting more tailored events adapted for social distancing. The generosity of the grant from the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage means we can build on the start we have already made in rethinking new and exciting ways to reach people. We will pilot new ways of sharing our outstanding heritage site with our local community and beyond. The support is invaluable in these precarious times, and the funding will help us find new ways of utilising buildings and grounds, in addition to exploring the feasibility of hosting outdoor art installations and events. We must continually innovate in order to secure and safeguard the future of our site, as well as the stories it tells.”

Duncan Wilson, Historic England’s Chief Executive says: “It is heartening to see grants, both large and small, from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund helping heritage sites and organisations across the country which have been hit hard by the effects of Covid-19. These grants range from giving skilled craft workers the chance to keep their trades alive to helping heritage organisations pay the bills, and to kick-starting repair works at our best-love historic sites. The funding is an essential lifeline for our heritage and the people who work tirelessly to conserve it for us all, so that we can hand it on to future generations.”

Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive of the National Lottery Heritage Fund says: “It is absolutely right that investing in heritage should be a priority during this crisis and this support by Government is crucial. Heritage creates jobs and economic prosperity, is a major driver for tourism and makes our towns, cities and rural areas better places to live. All of this is so important for our wellbeing and will be particularly vital when we start to emerge from this incredibly difficult time. Our heritage is still facing a perilous future – we are not out of the woods yet. But this hugely welcome funding from Government, and the money we continue to invest from the National Lottery, has undoubtedly stopped heritage and the organisations that care for it being permanently lost.”

Kate Mavor, Chief Executive of English Heritage, says: “This support for our nation’s heritage is fantastic news. Over the last few months, our teams have been working hard to welcome visitors back safely to the great castles, stone circles, abbeys and historic houses in our care. This funding will help us invest to safeguard the historic fabric of these much-loved places, which everyone can learn from and enjoy.”

The Old Royal Naval College is located at King William Walk, Greenwich, SE10 9NN. For more information, visit their website here

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