One certainty in this time of economic uncertainty is that Lottery ticket sales are booming. As a result, the heritage sector is set for a windfall in the next decade, and the public has a chance to say how it should be spent.
The importance of culture and landscape has been recognised by a major shift in how the Lottery’s ‘good causes’ pot is allotted post-Olympics; heritage will benefit by £300 million a year-an increase of £50 million-between 2013 and 2019.
The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), which distributes the money, has launched a public consultation to ask how the money should be spent. The effect of climate change on buildings, digital media and the heritage-skills shortage are expected to be priority issues. ‘These are turbulent times,’ says HLF chairman Dame Jenny Abramsky. ‘We know heritage can play an important role in economic recovery and we will have significantly more money to invest than in recent years-we need to make the most of it.’
The closing date is April 26; to participate, visit www.hlf.org.uk. The results will be published next spring.
Country Life canvassed leading figures for their views: Edward Harley, president, Historic Houses Association ‘We are in constructive talks with the HLF about modifying the current guidelines, which preclude private owners from applying for a grant. No one is suggesting they should be given handouts, but two-thirds of the built heritage is privately owned, and, if owners can guarantee public access and prove a public benefit, for instance by opening up a room for educational purposes, surely that’s a good thing. We’re thrilled the HLF has this extra money-there’s great scope for change.’
Marcus Binney, president, SAVE ‘It’s an important moment. HLF funds will be replenished, and there will be a rash of emergencies in the heritage sector. I hope the HLF will look at acquisitions, and also at individual rescue projects, of which there are many in desperate need of help.’
Sir Roy Strong, former V&A director ‘This should be a lifeline for the 10,000 country churches that are going to go under. Grants for their restoration would be most the most praiseworthy use; the country church nestling in the landscape has become the quintessential image of England.’
John Goodall, Architectural Editor ‘As the Government now wants to use heritage money as an alternative to its own funding, rather than as a complement, the basis on which grants are given out needs reappraising. The process of application needs simplifying and Lottery money must be made directly available to pay for the purchase and repair of buildings, rather than being restricted to interpretative elements of heritage schemes.’
Jonathan Thompson, heritage advisor, CLA ‘We’re encouraged by the suggestion that the HLF could be more ready to fund private and commercial owners. Plenty of projects at family-owned houses open to the public either involve no “private benefit” or have such goals outweighed by public benefit. Repairing commercially useless but historically valuable structures such as obelisks and dovecotes and roof repairs are obvious examples. Cuts in English Heritage funding have put these under real threat.’
Loyd Grossman, chairman, Heritage Alliance ‘I’d like to see the HLF put more funding into development helping smaller organisations to get more funding and employ staff, to make them more sustainable. The beauty of heritage is that it’s a local thing-there are dozens of dedicated volunteer groups, and they need help.’