IHBC welcomes new AHF-HE Covid-19 recovery grants initiative: £1M for post-COVID business planning for ‘small heritage’, closing 9/11

The IHBC has welcomed the announcement that the Cultural Recovery Fund to include smaller charities and social enterprise, assisted by the Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF) tandem with Historic England (HE), as £1M has been allocated to ‘charities and social enterprises occupying historic buildings to develop new business plans and strategies in light of the COVID-19 crisis.’

IHBC Chair David McDonald said: ‘I am pleased to see that the Cultural Recovery Fund has been widened to include smaller charities and social enterprise that are finding it difficult to remain viable during the pandemic.’

‘I hope that the assistance that the Architectural Heritage Fund can offer in tandem with Historic England will enable these organisations and the historic buildings that they occupy to survive and thrive’.

…to support charities and social enterprises occupying historic buildings…

…recognise the acute challenges…posed for charities and social enterprises…

The AHF writes:

The Architectural Heritage Fund today announces a new £1 million grant programme to support charities and social enterprises occupying historic buildings to develop new business plans and strategies in light of the COVID-19 crisis. The programme has been funded by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) as part of the Cultural Recovery Fund, and will be managed through partnership with Historic England.

Across England, organisations that had been operating sustainably, providing much-needed services to their communities and safeguarding historic assets have been acutely threatened by COVID and the measures put in place to mitigate it. Many may be able to regain financial stability by changing their operational model, launching new services and products or refreshing their offer – either temporarily, until the crisis passes, or on a permanent basis.

The deadline for applications will be 12pm, 9th November 2020. Grants of up to £50,000 per organisation will be awarded (with potentially a further round to follow in early 2021) to projects that can demonstrate they are significantly threatened by COVID. This funding will fund a range of costs that address the business plan needs of charities and social enterprises managing historic buildings: consultation and development work on business plans, including associated community engagement and audience development, legal and financial advice, and marketing, social media and website costs to help give new plans the best chance to succeed. Recognising that capacity is currently an issue for many organisations, up to 20% of the grant will also be eligible for overhead costs to enable organisations to fully engage in the work.

A further £1 million award from the Cultural Recovery Fund will be used to support the AHF in managing the impact of COVID-19 on its existing loan clients.

Matthew Mckeague, Chief Executive of the Architectural Heritage Fund, said: ‘We recognise the acute challenges that COVID-19 has posed for charities and social enterprises across the country – including lost income and a dearth of volunteers. Where these organisations occupy historic buildings, the difficulties are often exacerbated by high unavoidable expenditure, including ongoing maintenance and insurance costs. We hope that this funding generously provided by DCMS will help to find viable new temporary or long-term uses for historic buildings, safeguarding their place in their communities.’

Duncan Wilson OBE, Chief Executive of Historic England, said: ‘Not only do charities and community groups play a vital role in the protection and management of our heritage, but by doing so, many are also providing vital local services. During these uncertain times we must do what we can to support these groups and this investment, managed by the Architectural Heritage Fund, represents a key part of that support.’

The AHF Programme Guide writes:

You can apply if:

  • Your organisation is based in England, and:
  • You care for, work with, or manage a historic building or buildings, and:
  • You are a not-for-profit organisation (see below for the organisation structures that qualify), and:
  • Your organisation was financially viable before March 2020, and:
  • Your organisation is still solvent but at risk of no longer trading viably as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and:
  • You are looking for consultancy support to develop or refresh business plans or operating models.

Please click here for more details about the programme, here for the application form and here for the accompanying guidance documentation.

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