Museum awarded £60,000 Arts Council funding to help it through pandemic

Lyme Regis Museum (photo by Matt Austin)

LYME Regis Museum is one of more than 1,300 organisations across the country to benefit from government funding to protect the cultural, heritage and arts sectors.

Over the course of the coronavirus pandemic, theatres and museums have suffered from a severe cut in visitors, putting many at risk of closure.

To assist, 1,385 theatres, museums, performance groups and arts organisations across England will receive a share of £257million from the government.

This includes £26.5million for 249 organisations in the South West and £3.6million for 14 organisations in Dorset.

The cash injection is part of the wider £1.57billion Culture Recovery Fund to get the sector back on its feet after coronavirus.

The grants are being made by Arts Council England and come on top of £103million of emergency funding distributed from the Culture Recovery Fund for heritage venues and £3.5million of emergency funding for music venues.

This current round of awards covers grants of up to £1million, meaning there is a particular focus on smaller organisations that play a central role in their local communities.

Lyme Regis Museum reopened in September after a five-month closure due to COVID-19 and is now restricted on how many visitors it can welcome at a time.

It has benefited from a £60,000 grant, which museum director David Tucker said will help them to weather the storm and preserve Lyme’s heritage.

He commented: “Our museum has put a great deal effort into saving money for a rainy day, as the Charity Commission expect us to do. We hugely appreciate this generous grant, which has greatly strengthened our charity.

“As long as we continue to be careful, our museum should now be able to weather the current financial storm caused by the pandemic. We appreciate that we have an important role in supporting Lyme’s economy and this will enable us to keep contributing to the town’s wellbeing.

“Most importantly, as we approach our 100th birthday in 2021, this grant will help us preserve Lyme’s marvellous heritage for another 100 years.”

The museum was one of 14 organisations in Dorset to benefit from this round of funding, but there were no funds forthcoming for Lyme’s other main cultural attraction, the Marine Theatre, which has remained largely closed since March.

Further rounds of funding in the cultural and heritage sector are due to be announced over the coming weeks.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “This funding is a vital boost for the theatres, music venues, museums and cultural organisations that form the soul of our nation.

“It will protect these special places, save jobs and help the culture sector’s recovery.

“These places and projects are cultural beacons the length and breadth of the country – from the Beamish museum in County Durham to the Birmingham Royal Ballet and the Bristol Old Vic.

“This unprecedented investment in the arts is proof this government is here for culture, with further support to come in the days and weeks ahead so that the culture sector can bounce back strongly.”

West Dorset MP Chris Loder has praised the funding, saying it will save jobs and preserve the future of local cultural and arts initiatives.

He commented: “This is a real boost for our cultural heritage in West Dorset and will help save jobs and secure the future for eight West Dorset organisations and projects.

“I’m particularly pleased that smaller initiatives and charities such as community archaeology company Past Participate, Stuff and Nonsense Theatre Company and Dorchester Arts have been recognised alongside our historic cultural sites, such as Mapperton House.

“Local museums, at the very heart of our heritage, have also benefited with funding for Bridport Museum Trust, Dorset County Museum, Lyme Regis Museum and The Shire Hall in Dorchester.

“The government is listening to our needs here and I hope this investment will help these local organisations to come back stronger as they recover from the impact of coronavirus.”

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