Govt culture recovery funding helps Bath heritage buildings battle back from impact of pandemic

November 29, 2021
Some of Bath’s most historic buildings are to get fresh investment to attract more visitors under a government heritage scheme.
Bath Preservation Trust, which operates four visitor attractions including No.1 Royal Crescent, pictured, has received just under £445,000 from the government’s Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage to help it face the ongoing challenges caused by the pandemic. 

These include caring and preserving its collections and increasing public engagement as well as expanding its membership.
The trust, which also operates the Herschel Museum of Astronomy, Beckford’s Tower and the Museum of Bath Architecture, said although the country was slowly returning to a sense of pre-pandemic ‘normality’, Bath continued to experience reduced visitor numbers from overseas, which had significantly impacted on its revenue streams. 
Maintenance and essential repair projects to its buildings were severely disrupted during the pandemic – an issue made worse by the lack of resources and the fact that the work could not be done during lockdowns.
However, it said receiving the Recovery Fund cash meant it could go-ahead with a programme of work as well as introducing new features.
The investment is its third from the fund – following those made in October last year and this April.
As well as using the funds to underpin fixed costs, the trust invested in a major new immersive visitor experience at No.1 Royal Crescent.
The mix of digital projections and soundscapes allow different rooms to ‘come to life’ as visitors explore the house and follow the story of a fictitious family and their servants.
In the five months since its launch, the new visitor experience has helped No.1 exceed expectations for its revenue and audience figures exceed expectations – although the trust said they remained some way behind pre-pandemic figures. 
The museum is also engaging with more diverse audiences in terms of age and background.  
Trust director of museums Claire Dixon said: “We have been very grateful for the support received from the Cultural Recovery Fund and this third grant will make the difference for our organisation, in terms of realising our recovery.  
“We find that audience levels remain low in our museums compared to 2019, and there is still a reluctance among many to visit indoor places, as well as a very slow return of international visitors.  
“We don’t anticipate this changing just yet and being able to cover our core costs and invest in essential aspects of our visitor experience will ensure we are as resilient as we can be.  
“This financial support will not just ensure our eventual recovery in 2022, but will also enable us to reposition ourselves to realise growth and prosperity as audiences return, through innovative investment in new visitor experiences and a sustainable business model.”
The trust also received a National Lottery Heritgage Fund emergency grant in July last year which allowed No. 1 Royal Crescent to be re-opened for the summer under a new reduced model and to trial other Covid-secure events.
The trust, which was set up in 1934, receives no statutory funding. It is supported by visitor income, grants, legacies, donations and around 1,400 members who share a passion for the Bath and its environs. 
The Culture Recovery Fund has awarded more than £1.2bn, supporting around 5,000 individual organisations and sites across the country ranging from local museums to West End theatres, grassroots music venues to festivals, and organisations in the cultural and heritage supply-chains. 

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