• Wessex Archaeology has been awarded cash from the first round of the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage
  • The grant was marked at the company by a visit to their Salisbury headquarters by Salisbury MP John Glen
  • The money will help Wessex Archaeology to mitigate risks to large-scale projects posed by the current crisis, as well as help deliver digital engagement activities as part of their charitable mission
  • 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

Wessex Archaeology is one of 445 heritage organisations across the country set to receive a financial boost from the government thanks to the £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund to help them through the coronavirus pandemic.

To mark the award of funding, Wessex Archaeology CEO Chris Brayne welcomed local MP John Glen for a special visit to our Salisbury headquarters.

Salisbury MP John Glen visits Wessex Archaeology's Head Office

The funding will enable Wessex Archaeology to enhance the quality and range of our digital media content, and therefore to deliver a broader range of accessible, inclusive and engaging heritage experiences.

Our push to develop digital media capabilities is a response to the restrictions on our contact with the public. We exist to share our knowledge so the loss of those opportunities is potentially catastrophic for our mission. Our experiments in digital engagement have showed us that it is possible to deliver the benefits of interaction with heritage at a safe distance and that there are much greater opportunities to grow and broaden our audience.

It will also allow us to review and refine our project management capabilities in the context of current and future challenges. This will help us to take on very large projects at a time of great uncertainty - we can never tell when our work will be disrupted by lock-downs or health problems and we need the right professional grade tools to plan monitor and respond quickly to change.

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The Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage and the Heritage Stimulus Fund is 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, 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 said:

“As a nation it is essential that we preserve our heritage and celebrate and learn from our past. This massive support package will protect our shared heritage for future generations, save jobs and help us prepare for a cultural bounceback post covid.”

Chris Brayne, Wessex Archaeology’s CEO said:

“The award is about being able to change to adapt to the new conditions. We chose to look at the risks the crisis poses – both the threats and the opportunities – and how an injection of funds can strengthen our capability to absorb change and move forward.

“The purpose of our work is to improve the wellbeing of our communities through an increased appreciation of cultural heritage. Covid-19 has enabled a move to digital technology and platforms to engage the public with content that supports wellbeing and promotes an appreciation of our cultural heritage. This funding will provide us with additional equipment and staff to increase the quality and range of digital media content for use on our social media channels, public lecture webinars and our on-line heritage themed health and wellbeing programmes. As a result, we will be better positioned to make heritage experiences more accessible, inclusive and engaging.

We have a clear responsibility to use this money to deliver value back to society and we will do that by sharing what we learn about how to be more resilient, by sharing more of our findings in more engaging ways and by helping our colleagues, across the heritage sector, to reach as wide an audience as possible.”

We are #HereForCulture

Duncan Wilson, Historic England’s Chief Executive said:

“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-loved 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 said:

 “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.”

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