Almost 450 heritage organisations in England have been awarded cash from the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage, as Colin Tyson reports.
Great Dorset Steam Fair Ltd received £236,200, while Hollycombe Steam in the Country has received £895,000. The funds will be used to help towards monthly operating costs over the coming six months. This vital funding is from the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage and the Heritage Stimulus Fund – funded by the UK 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.
Martin Oliver, managing director, the Great Dorset Steam Fair said: “Like many other event organisers, due to the coronavirus pandemic we face uncertainty as to when we can run our next event, and what statutory restrictions will be in place. With this in mind, and to ensure our resilience and business continuity, we applied for a ‘Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage Grant’ in August 2020; a fund specifically designed to help cultural and heritage organisations to ‘weather the storm’ over the next six months leading into March 2021. I am pleased to announce that our application has been successful; the grant is a vital contribution in preserving our amazing event.
“After 51 years of consecutive shows (some of which have seen us fight against unimaginable odds and elements), 2020 is the first year in the event’s history that the show has been forced to cancel. This has caused us ongoing uncertainty, as it has for the rest of our industry.
“I was shocked at how the coronavirus crisis took hold, and how it has suffocated event livelihoods, in our case; showmen grounded, world class exhibits being put up for sale, traders and caterers permanently closing, contractors and entertainers of all types clawing through months and months of cancellations, enforced career changes. Then, as the end of October loomed, my heart sunk at the prospect of losing my core staff when the furlough scheme ends.
“As a commercial operation with fixed monthly operating costs, 2020 has been a very difficult financial year for us, with only minimal revenue streams due to the cancellation of this year’s event.
“As part of our grant application, the Culture Recovery Fund Heritage team asked us to explain what would happen if the Great Dorset Steam Fair was no longer able to operate viably. In frank terms, moving forwards, no event would mean no income and, left unchecked, this would inevitably lead to future loss of sustainability. If we were no longer able to operate viably, then the annual Great Dorset Steam Fair event would cease to exist, ending 51 years of an extraordinary, worldwide heritage attraction. The effect of closure would be felt far and wide throughout the steam heritage, vintage vehicle and country craft fraternities, not only here in the UK but across the world.
“The Great Dorset Steam Fair (as ‘The National Heritage Show’) is unquestionably the keystone event which showcases Great Britain’s rich industrial, rural and leisure history and, as the 21st century progresses, this cannot be emphasised enough. Being widely recognised as the world’s leading steam heritage and vintage vehicle event, its loss in the heritage events calendar would seriously endanger the future scale of the nation’s steam heritage and historic motor vehicle preservation movement, and the skills and crafts which accompany it.
“The event is, in effect, the largest working/living museum of its type in the world, inspiring and educating a whole new generation, and attracting huge numbers of visitors each year into the local area.
“The Great Dorset Steam Fair also has a significant and positive impact on the local economy and on tourism; for accommodation providers (hotels, B&Bs and campsites), pubs and restaurants, shops and the vast array of local contractors, staff and volunteers who make the event happen.
“We are, therefore, extremely humbled to have been awarded this grant, which will help us through what would have been a very difficult winter, and I cannot thank the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage team enough for its fantastic support. We can now work tirelessly with our exhibitors, traders, contractors, the statutory authorities, emergency services and partner agencies towards delivering a safe and successful event in 2021 for our visitors.” (statutory and coronavirus restrictions permitting)
Other organisations in our sector to benefit from Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage Grants include: Amberley Museum & Heritage Centre, £80,000; Crabble Corn Mill Trust, Dover, £20,000; Crossness Engines Trust, £29,600; Daniel Adamson Preservation Society, £151,000; Dudley Canal & Tunnel Trust, £309,800; Farfield Mill, Sedburgh, £44,400; Green’s Windmill, Notts., £38,000; Heron Corn Mill, Beetham, £75,600; MV Balmoral,£15,600; Nottingham Heritage Vehicles, £24,200; Old Kiln Museum, Surrey, £70,200; Penistone Cinema Organ Trust, £58,000; Pilgrim Heritage Sailing Trawler, Brixham, £38,000; Pioneer Sailing Trust, Brightlingsea, £276,200; Rushden Historical Transport Society, £31,900; Seaton Tramway, £435,100; Thames Steamers, £30,000; The Arkwright Society, £717,400 and The Loughborough Bell Foundry, £246,500.
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