The Historic Dockyard Chatham to receive £384,144 from second round of the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund

Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust has received a grant of £384,144 from the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund to help The Historic Dockyard Chatham reopen to visitors and support its recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than £300 million has been awarded to thousands of cultural organisations across the country in the latest round of support from the Culture Recovery Fund, the Culture Secretary announced today.

As custodians of the 80-acre Historic Dockyard site at Chatham, a site of national and international significance as the world’s most complete dockyard of the Age of Sail, Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust strives for excellence in achievement of its charitable purposes of preservation and learning. In December 2019, the charity stood on the cusp of revenue financial sustainability, but COVID-19 created an existential crisis, with 7 of its 9 income sources ceasing completely. Although the Trust was able to restart its museum and visitor activities briefly in summer 2020, the combination of increased costs, reduced capacity, and activity constraints, coupled with a delayed reopening for 2021 have all done little to improve the financial position.

The much-needed Cultural Recovery Fund award will help The Historic Dockyard achieve its reopening plans, supporting day to day visitor operations, as well as an enhanced family programme, digital engagement, and collection care. In addition, it will support the Trust’s sector-leading work with children and young people, and its community engagement work, encouraging engagement from a broad range of audiences. The grant will also allow wider promotion of a new temporary exhibition, Hidden Heroines: the untold stories of the women of the Dockyard, helping to stimulate visits through the summer.

Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, 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.”

Richard Morsley, Chief Executive, Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust said: “We are absolutely delighted and incredibly grateful for the support given to The Historic Dockyard Chatham through the Arts Council England administered, Culture Recovery Fund.  We are rightly proud of our contribution as an independent heritage organisation in terms of our social, cultural and economic impact. The challenges faced as a result of the pandemic have been profound and this vital funding helps protect the Historic Dockyard Chatham as an important cultural asset, and more importantly, supports our financial resilience enabling us to thrive and grow in the long term. 

 This funding is crucial in enabling us to continue to tell the story of the Royal Navy’s 400-year connection with Chatham and the Medway Towns, helping us to drive our tourism economy and post-COVID recovery.  We look forward to welcoming visitors back to the site as soon as Government guidelines allow, and to delivering a brilliant and engaging visitor experience.”

 Sir Nicholas Serota, Chair, Arts Council England, said: “Investing in a thriving cultural sector at the heart of communities is a vital part of helping the whole country to recover from the pandemic. These grants will help to re-open theatres, concert halls, and museums and will give artists and companies the opportunity to begin making new work. We are grateful to the Government for this support and for recognising the paramount importance of culture to our sense of belonging and identity as individuals and as a society.”

The funding awarded today is from a £400 million pot which was held back last year to ensure the Culture Recovery Fund could continue to help organisations in need as the public health picture changed. The funding has been awarded by Arts Council England, as well as Historic England and National Lottery Heritage Fund and the British Film Institute.