English Heritage unveils ambitious plans - Museums Association

English Heritage unveils ambitious plans

The organisation aims to be self-financing by 2023
English Heritage has set itself a series of ambitious financial targets so that it can become a self-financing organisation in eight years’ time.

Its plans were outlined last week ahead of English Heritage splitting into two on 1 April.

The English Heritage Trust, a new independent charity, will look after the National Heritage Collection, which comprises more than 400 historic sites across England including Stonehenge, Dover Castle and parts of Hadrian’s Wall. It will retain the English Heritage name.

Historic England will be the new name for the public body that champions and protects England’s historic environment.

The new English Heritage charity hopes to become self-sustaining by 2023. To help achieve this it is aiming to increase admissions revenue from £23.7m in 2015-16 to £30.7m in 2022-23. Over the same period it wants to increase membership revenue from £26.8m to £42.6m and fundraising revenue from £3.2m to £8.9m.

Tim Laurence, the chairman of English Heritage, said: “There are two challenges. The first is to achieve financial independence from government and to stand on our own two feet. It is a very tough task but we have the skills, energy and enthusiasm to do it.

“The second challenge is even more important – it is to make our collection of properties safer, more accessible, better understood, more interesting and more exciting to visitors.”

In 2013-14, there were 5.73 million visits to English Heritage’s manned sites compared with 5.10 million in 2012-13 and 5.53 million in 2011-12.

English Heritage had 1.32 million members in 2013-14, up from 1.16m in 2012-13.

The National Trust, which has more than 350 historic houses, gardens and ancient monuments, had 4.1 million members in 2013-14 and there were almost 20 million visits to its pay-for-entry properties in the same period. Its membership income was more than £150m and its admission fee revenue was £22.3m.

The government has awarded English Heritage £80m of capital investment to make repairs to existing properties, and a further £8.5m to finance implementation of the new structure. The charity will continue to receive resource grant-in-aid from the government on a declining basis from 2015/16 to the end of 2022/23.

Culture secretary Sajid Javid said the new English Heritage would be more entrepreneurial.

“Released from the restrictive hand of Whitehall control, the new English Heritage charity will be free to explore new ways of engaging with communities; new ways of protecting and promoting our heritage; and new ways of harnessing philanthropy and other sources of funding,” Javid said.

The Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England (now known as Historic England) will review the progress of the English Heritage charity throughout the eight years to 2023 and will have the right to terminate the agreement if the obligations are not met. In that event, the collection would revert back to the management of the commission.

A number of new museums and exhibitions will be developed as part of English Heritage’s plans.

The art deco Eltham Palace in Greenwich will be restored. And to mark this year’s bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo, there will be new exhibitions at those sites associated with the Duke of Wellington: Wellington Arch and Apsley House in London and Walmer Castle in Kent.

Next year, a new museum will open to tell the 900-year story of Rievaulx Abbey in north Yorkshire.

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