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Heritage lottery launches emergency fund but halts all new grants

Shutterstock peter, paul and philomena church new brighton wirral
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The National Lottery Heritage Fund has halted all new grant applications until at least October because of the Coronavirus crisis

The organisation is diverting funding from planned new grants to a £50 million emergency fund to help mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the heritage sector.

The Heritage Emergency Fund will provide grants of between £3,000 and £50,000 over the next three to six months to address immediate funding pressures. It is open to organisations that have received funding in the past and are either a current grantee or still under contract following a previous grant.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund will also accelerate the provision of its £1.2 million investment in digital skills such as digital fundraising, use of social media and communications, and the running of online events.

The announcement of the support package comes after a survey by the fund of 1,250 heritage organisations found 82 per cent faced a high or moderate risk to their long-term viability. More than a third (35 per cent) reported that their financial reserves would be depleted within four months, while 45 per cent could not survive for more than six months.

The fund will continue to support the 2,500 projects to which a combined £1.1 billion has already been committed.

Heritage minister Nigel Huddleston said: ‘It is important that we do all we can to ensure our nation’s remarkable heritage landscapes, buildings and monuments – and the hardworking organisations that protect them – are supported at this difficult time.

‘Heritage plays an important role in our communities by supporting jobs and economic growth as well as helping us to understand our shared past. This new £50 million package from the National Lottery Heritage Fund will help to protect our most at-risk heritage throughout this unprecedented period.’

Historic England chief executive Duncan Wilson said his organisation was also looking to provide ‘emergency financial support’ which would ‘run alongside this and other measures introduced by the government and our partners in the heritage and cultural sectors’ and would announce details soon.

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