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National Lottery Heritage Fund announces £50m emergency coronavirus fund

National Lottery Heritage Fund announces £50m emergency coronavirus fund

The National Lottery Heritage Fund has announced a UK-wide £50million fund to support the heritage sector in response to the coronavirus outbreak.  

The fund, raised from The National Lottery, will address immediate pressures over the next three-six months for organisations most in need, offering grants of between £3,000 and £50,000.

The funding is available to organisations across the full breadth of heritage, including historic sites, industrial and maritime heritage, museums, libraries and archives, parks and gardens, landscapes and nature.

Organisations which have received funding in the past or are either a current grantee, or still under contract following a previous grant, can apply, and priority will be given where there is limited or no access to other sources of support, where heritage is most at risk, and where an organisation is at risk of severe financial crisis due to COVID-19.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund will also continue to support more than 2,500 projects that it has already committed to – an investment of more than £1billion.

Eilish McGuinness, The National Lottery Heritage Fund Executive Director, Business Delivery, said:

“We know that circumstances are incredibly challenging for our heritage community right now and we want to do everything we can to support them. We hope this new fund will be a lifeline and a beacon of hope for organisations affected.

“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 this current crisis.”

As well as the Heritage Emergency Fund, the National Lottery Heritage Fund will also support the sector in the following ways:

  • Accelerating the provision of its £1.2m Digital Skills for Heritage initiative
  • Continuing to support the 2,500 projects it has already committed to funding
  • Being as flexible as possible for existing grantees
  • Providing bespoke advice and support
  • Through a £2m commitment to its network of ROSS consultants in the new financial year to support organisations in need
  • Working with the Government, other funders and heritage organisations to bring together support for the sector
  • In the longer term, it has also invested £4m in two Enterprise Development programmes across the UK for heritage leaders, and Business Support Programmes in all four countries

In order to provide this support, it is halting all new grant applications with immediate effect, and the Heritage Emergency Fund will consist of money diverted from new grants.

Decisions on funding for the Heritage Horizon Awards will be deferred from March 2020 into the 2021-2022 financial year, and it will not be opening a further round of funding for these Awards.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s response to the coronavirus crisis is based on consultation across the sector, including more than 1,250 respondents to its survey, to which 82% reported a high or moderate risk to their organisation’s long-term viability with 53% asking for emergency funding.

Further details are expected to be released shortly.


Image: Stonehenge is a previous National Lottery Heritage Fund funding recipient

Melanie May is a journalist and copywriter specialising in writing both for and about the charity and marketing services sectors since 2001. She can be reached via

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