£2.7 million emergency funding will help Wales’s heritage weather the coronavirus storm

The National Lottery Heritage Fund has awarded almost £3 million (£2,742,400) to 54 organisations in Wales as part of an emergency support package for the UK’s heritage sector.

The money raised from The National Lottery will help address immediate pressures over the next few months for those organisations most affected by the repercussions of COVID-19.

The Heritage Emergency Fund (HEF) grants range between £3,000 and £250,000. Some of the organisations in Wales receiving HEF funding include:

  • The Wildlife Trust of South West Wales, Bridgend (£194,900)
  • The South Wales Miners Museum, Neath Port Talbot (£9,800)
  • The Cynon Valley Museum Trust, Rhondda Cynon Taf (£22,000)
  • The Insole Court Trust, Cardiff (£103,600)
  • The National Botanic Garden of Wales, Carmarthenshire (£247,700)
  • The Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway Preservation Co., Powys (£35,200)
  • The Ffestiniog Railway Company, Gwynedd (£250,000)
  • St Asaph Cathedral, Denbighshire (£21,000)

Andrew White, former Director for Stonewall Cymru and Head of Health and Voluntary Sector at the Welsh Language Board, was appointed the new Director of The National Lottery Heritage Fund in Wales in June.

He said:

“Following a consultation with the heritage sector and after analysing more than 1,250 responses to our survey, we know that because of COVID-19 the majority of heritage organisations have been, and are continuing to face, temporary closure, staff shortages and a severe impact on their revenue, both now and going forwards.

“Many face very real threats to their long-term futures.

“Heritage has an essential role to play in making communities better places to live, creating economic prosperity and supporting personal wellbeing. All of these are going to be vitally important as we emerge from this current crisis.

“This is why the National Lottery Heritage Fund is taking a short, medium and long-term approach to our support for these immediate challenges, as well as longer-term resilience and recovery.

“These first awards for me as Director in Wales are not ‘business as usual’ for the National Lottery Heritage Fund – far from it – but I am proud to have joined the organisation at such a pivotal moment for Welsh, and UK, heritage. We hope this new fund will be a lifeline and a beacon of hope for organisations affected during this unprecedented time.”

From PPE, training and staff costs to setting up new online booking systems and temperature data logs, these HEF grants will contribute towards essential costs to help organisations deal with immediate risks and become more stable, as well as help organisations look towards longer-term recovery as COVID-19 restrictions ease.

Huw Francis, Director of The National Botanic Garden of Wales, which has received £247,700, said:

“We have been relatively lucky in that we are a largely outdoor attraction, and with 568 acres we’ve been more than able to meet all the social-distancing guidelines since we have reopened to visitors – but there is no denying these have been an extremely challenging set of circumstances during our three month temporary closure to the visiting public, whose admissions tickets and other spending fund 70% of our annual operating costs.

“We’d like to say a huge thanks to all our members, visitors, staff, volunteers, friends and everyone for sticking with us through these strange and difficult times – and to National Lottery players for helping provide this much appreciated helping hand.”

Gray Hill, director of Insole Court in Cardiff which received just over £100,000 added,

“There’s a reason why people fall in love with this place and when we locked the doors in March, it wasn’t just the potential job losses that were going through my head.”

“I was worried about our visitors, many of whom have a lifelong connection with this place. The emergency funding will allow us to give people back what they’ve been missing.

“There’s no doubt we’ve been bruised by the lockdown – this has been incredibly painful, but now we’ve got a chance thanks to the lifeline we received from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

“Right now, it’s about keeping going – it’s not about a potential second phase or further redevelopments – there’ll be another time for that, but now we have a chance to prepare for whatever’s around the corner.”