The Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust has been awarded £1.86 million from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund to help its long-term recovery from the coronavirus lockdown, it was announced today.
The grant – delivered through Arts Council England – follows on from a £500,000 award in July under its Emergency Recovery Fund.
Trust chief executive Nick Ralls today welcomed the award and said the Trust had drawn up a three-year strategic plan to secure the long-term future of the museum despite the heavy toll which Covid-19 and the floods in February had taken.
The Trust estimates it will suffer a £4million shortfall in revenue this year and has announced it is making up to 50 posts redundant to ensure it can continue to operate on a sustainable basis in the long-term.
“We are deeply grateful to Arts Council England for this latest award which will help us to cover the considerable operational costs of maintaining this nationally important collection of historic buildings, structures and collections.
“At the same time, the Trust has been working to ensure the long-term future of our museums by drawing up a strategic plan that will ensure we remain sustainable for years to come.
“Like many cultural organisations, we are adapting to new circumstances and with this have had also to take very difficult decisions, taking steps to control our costs and having to make redundancies because of reduced revenues and the ongoing impact of the virus on our visitor numbers.
“I would personally like to thank all those staff for the tremendous contribution they have each made to the Trust over the years and wish them well.
“But I would also stress that we are determined the visitor experience at our museums will continue to be just as good as it has always been.”
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said:
“As part of our unprecedented £1.57 billion rescue fund, today we’re saving British cultural icons with large grants of up to £3 million – from Shakespeare’s Globe to the Sheffield Crucible. These places and organisations are irreplaceable parts of our heritage and what make us the cultural superpower we are. This vital funding will secure their future and protect jobs right away.”
Chair, Arts Council England, Sir Nicholas Serota, said:
“The Culture Recovery Fund has already helped hundreds of organisations, of all types and sizes, in villages, towns and cities across the country. It has provided a lifeline that will allow these organisations to continue to play an integral role in their communities and produce new artistic work that will entertain and inspire us all.
“This latest funding, which are the largest grants to date, will support some of the country’s most loved and admired cultural spaces – from great regional theatres and museums to historic venues in the capital – which are critical to the development of a new generation of talent and in providing work for freelance creatives.”
Mr Ralls said there had been ‘dark days’ in March when the museum had been affected by the floods in February and then the Covid 19 restrictions, but the Trust was among the first in the country to reopen after lockdown in July 2020 and has exciting and engaging plans to deliver growth in 2021.
The Trust – a registered education and heritage conservation charity which cares for 35 listed buildings in the Gorge – has also launched a Keep Ironbridge Running campaign to help ensure it can continue its award-winning work.
“The Trust has always been independent – that is part of our very essence. We have been working throughout this most difficult period to ensure we can stand on our own feet financially and build even better attractions over the next few years.”