Easter is usually the traditional start of the main season for many heritage organisations but in 2021 it is once again different with restrictions still in place meaning even those places which will be openly shortly will have reduced capacity bringing with it lower income. In recognition the second round of cash from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund has now been announced with the Seaton Tramway one of the over 2,700 organisations to have benefited.
The fund is worth £1.57 billion and Seaton Tramway will be receiving £217,500 which will directly support wages, major overheads such as track and tram maintenance along with the creation of new offers and opportunities with world class partners and exhibitions.
Jenny Nunn, Chief Executive of Seaton Tramway, said: “After another long period of national lockdown, we are delighted that the Culture Recovery Fund has awarded us a further £217,500. This will enable us to sustain the Tramway going forward in what has been a really difficult and uncertain time for all considering visitor numbers were down 70% in 2020, assisting with essential repairs, overheads and staff wages. The main priorities have been to protect the complex infrastructure, ensure projects started pre-pandemic are completed and maintain pre-Covid staffing levels in order to offer the quality experience visitors expect when we hope we’re able to re-open on 12th April.”
Since the start of the pandemic the tramway has had to close from 23rd March to 4th July, 5th November to 2nd December and then from 30th December 2020 onwards. Even at times when they were able to open they had to run at reduced capacity on the trams with strict social distancing measures in place, coupled with the investment made to make the tramway Covid secure, 2020 was a challenging year for the tramway – a year in which it celebrated its 50th anniversary – but this funding will help to cover some of those costs.
This latest round of funding announced – which has included heritage organisations across the country including many heritage railways as well as arts organisations – totals almost £400 million. Over £1.2 billion has now been paid out through the Culture Recovery Fund since it was launched in 2020 with more than 5,000 separate organisations being rewarded.
Oliver Dowden, Culture Secretary, said: ““Our record breaking Culture Recovery Fund has already helped thousands of culture and heritage organisations across the country survive the biggest crisis they’ve ever faced. Now we’re staying by their side as they prepare to welcome the public back through their doors – helping our cultural gems plan for reopening and thrive in the better times ahead.”
A third round of funding from the fund will be announced soon.