More grant aid for Preservation Trust

No 1 Royal Crescent

 More government support for Bath Preservation Trust – who run four heritage sites in the city – with an award of just under £445,000 to help the organisation face the ongoing challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Founded in 1934, BPT now operates four important visitor attractions, No.1 Royal Crescent, the Herschel Museum of Astronomy, Beckford’s Tower and the Museum of Bath Architecture. Following two previous grants from the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage, in October 2020 and April 2021, the latest award will further help the sites continue to welcome visitors. The award has been made by the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF).

Although the country is slowly returning to a sense of pre-pandemic ‘normality’, Bath continues to experience reduced visitor numbers from overseas, which has had a significant impact on BPT’s revenue streams. Maintenance and repair projects to its historic buildings were severely disrupted, an issue made worse by the lack of resources and the fact that the work could not be done during the periods of lockdown

Now, an exciting programme of work and fresh investment can finally begin, with the government grant supporting BPT’s core activities in relation to care and preservation of its collections, increasing public engagement and expanding its membership.

The immersive experience at No 1

After successfully bidding for Cultural Recovery Fund grants in the two previous spending rounds, Bath Preservation Trust used the money to underpin fixed costs and invested in a major new immersive visitor experience.  An exciting mix of digital projections and soundscapes were installed throughout No.1 Royal Crescent, with different rooms ‘coming to life’, as visitors explore the house. 

Following the story of a fictitious family and their servants, audiences are able to experience what life was like during the Georgian era. The interpretation affords new insights into the beautiful city of Bath and reveals it as a place built on pleasure, image and wealth created by commerce, slavery, gambling and reliance on those in domestic servitude. It also suggests parallels with the present day; our delight in rumour and gossip, the cult of personality, celebrity and the possibility to rise from obscurity through business and commercial success.

In just five months, since its launch in June, the new visitor experience has helped No.1 to see revenue and audience figures exceed expectations, although they remain some way behind pre-pandemic figures. The museum is also engaging with more diverse audiences in terms of age and background.  

Claire Dixon, Director of Museums 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 amongst 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.”

Over £1.2 billion has already been awarded from the unprecedented Culture Recovery Fund, supporting around 5000 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. 

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said: “Culture is for everyone and should therefore be accessible to everyone, no matter who they are and where they’re from. Through unprecedented government financial support, the Culture Recovery Fund is supporting arts and cultural organisations so they can continue to bring culture to communities the length and breadth of the country, supporting jobs, boosting local economies and inspiring people.”

Darren Henley, Chief Executive, Arts Council England, said: “This continued investment from the Government on an unprecedented scale means our theatres, galleries, music venues, museums and arts centres can carryon playing theirpart in bringing visitors back to our high streets, helping to drive economic growth, boosting community pride and promoting good health. It’s a massive vote of confidence in the role our cultural organisations play in helping us all to lead happier lives.”

During the first round of awards from the Government’s Cultural Recovery Fund, BPT received a grant of £825,400 in October 2020. Last April (2021), a further £192,200 was invested in the organisation, which again that ensured BPT could continue to share its expertise in support of the City of Bath through its vital planning and campaigning work.

In July 2020, BPT was also very grateful to receive an NHLF Emergency Fund grant 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.