Clifton House Centre has been awarded £74,500 to help recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Known to many as the original Poor House, Clifton House is a unique conference venue and historic heritage attraction located in the north of Belfast.
Pre-COVID, it would have accommodated hundreds of small conferences and events over the course of a year, and hosted weekly tours, talks and presentations on the history of the Society and the Poor House. As of March this year, Clifton House will have been closed to the public for a full year, resulting in significant loss of income. Not only that, but the likelihood of income from tours and conference hire returning to pre-COVID levels within the next 12 months is exceptionally low.
Clifton House is among many arts and heritage venues who have been negatively impacted by the pandemic. As a response, the National Lottery Heritage Fund announced grants to help 91 organisations and individuals adapt, recover and re-open following the impact of COVID-19. The Heritage Recovery Fund is being distributed by The National Lottery Heritage Fund on behalf of the Department for Communities. The fund is part of the £29million Executive allocation to support the arts, culture, heritage and language sectors in Northern Ireland, which have been severely impacted by COVID-19.
“We are delighted to receive this grant. COVID-19 has brought huge challenges for Clifton House, like many heritage tourism buildings. However, this money will allow us to re-model our service delivery to cope better with the ongoing pandemic, including investing in new ways to engage with online audiences, researching and reaching new markets including the local family market and international markets. This resource will also be vital for helping us plan for the future, post COVID”, Paula Reynolds, Chief Executive of Clifton House.
Paula continued, “we plan to use the grant to convert a number of our meeting spaces into rentable office and research space, as well as to develop a concept proposal on the heritage space itself. With staff still working predominantly from home, the grant will also be used to upgrade our equipment and systems to better support remote working.”
This is the latest package of support from The National Lottery Heritage Fund to support the heritage sector across the UK throughout the COVID-19 crisis. Last year, the organisation committed over £600million of National Lottery and Government funding to more than 1,500 heritage organisations, along with expertise and advice on adapting to the pandemic.
Paul Mullan, The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said “We are grateful to the Department for Communities for providing this funding and enabling us to help a wide range of organisations and individuals in Northern Ireland’s heritage sector to recover from the current crisis.
“The risks to heritage sites, attractions and organisations from a sudden and dramatic loss of income as a result of the pandemic, have put the heritage and visitor economy in crisis, and this funding will play a vital role in their recovery.
“Heritage has an essential role to play in making communities better places to live, creating economic prosperity and supporting personal wellbeing. All of these are going to be vitally important as we emerge from the current pandemic.”
To find out more about The National Lottery Heritage Fund, go to: www.heritagefund.org.uk.