Seaton Tramway awarded £217,500 from Culture Recovery Fund

  Posted: 02.04.21 at 12:01 by Francesca Evans

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Seaton Tramway has received a grant of £217,500 from the government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund to help the organisation recover and reopen after the pandemic.

Nearly £400million has been awarded to thousands of cultural organisations across the country, including Seaton Tramway, in the latest round of support from the Culture Recovery Fund, the Culture Secretary announced today.

Seaton Tramway, which is a registered charity, has been operating in Seaton since August 1970 and celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2020.

The tramway operates a three-mile track between Seaton and Colyton and has a fleet of 14 trams.

The trams range in age from 1904 to 2007 and include a fleet of heritage trams of which ran on the streets of London, Bournemouth and includes the last surviving tram to run on the streets of Exeter.

The funding comes at welcome time for the tramway, as it has had to endure huge losses during the COVID-19 lockdown, closing from March 23 to July 4 2020, again from November 5 to December 2 2020, and has remained closed since December 30 2020.

The tramway has been awarded the ‘We’re Good To Go’ accreditation from Visit England and the AA ‘Covid-Secure’ badge.

The trams have been running at a lower capacity since July 4 due to social distancing. However, with the hard work of staff and volunteers, the attraction successfully kept the site COVID secure and welcomed many visitors over the brief summer season.

Seaton Tramway hopes to reopen again from 10am on April 12.

More than £800 million in grants and loans has already been awarded to support almost 3,800 cinemas, performance venues, museums, heritage sites and other cultural organisations dealing with the immediate challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.

This brings the government's total investment across grants, capital and repayable finance from the Culture Recovery Fund so far to more than £1.2billion across over 5,000 individual cultural and heritage organisations and sites.

The second round of awards made today will help organisations to look ahead to the spring and summer and plan for reopening and recovery.

After months of closures and cancellations to contain the virus and save lives, this funding will be a much-needed helping hand for organisations transitioning back to normal in the months ahead.

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."

Jenny Nunn, chief executive of Seaton Tramway, commented: “After another long period of national lockdown, we are delighted that the Culture Recovery Fund has awarded us a further £217,500.

"This will enable us to sustain the tramway going forward in what has been a really difficult and uncertain time for all considering visitor numbers were down 70% in 2020, assisting with essential repairs, overheads and staff wages.

"The main priorities have been to protect the complex infrastructure, ensure projects started pre-pandemic are completed and maintain pre-COVID staffing levels in order to offer the quality experience visitors expect when we hope we’re able to re-open on April 12.”

Ros Kerslake, CEO of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, added: “Spring is definitely here, bringing not only sunshine but that sense of optimism and hope for the future.

"We are all looking forward to heritage places and other visitor attractions reopening and I am very pleased that we have been able to support DCMS in delivering this vital funding to ensure the UK’s heritage sector can rebuild and thrive, boosting local economies, creating jobs and supporting personal wellbeing.”

Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive of Historic England, commented: “The value of our heritage sites and the people who run them has been amply demonstrated, as they have provided an anchor for so many of us through the dark days of the last year.

"Vital grants from the Culture Recovery Fund have helped them survive and will now help them recover, as the places we all cherish start to reopen in the months ahead.”

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 the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Historic England as well as the British Film Institute and Arts Council England.

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