Thursday, 29 July 2021

Henley museum gets £150k covid funding boost

River and Rowing Museum gets covid funding boost

THE River and Rowing Museum in Henley has been awarded just over £150,000 to help it to bounce back after the coronavirus pandemic.

The museum, which will re-open its doors on May 20, was successful in applying for help from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund worth £1.57 billion.

Income has dropped by 60 per cent compared to last year. Even when the museum has been able to open, attendance has had to be reduced to make it safer for visitors.

The total sum of £152,071 will be used to help the venue adapt further by providing more online services, while also securing its future.

Jon O’Donoghue, the new head of public engagement, said: “We want our museum and its collections to continue to be at the heart of our communities – both as a museum for a physical visit and as a fantastic resource online. 

“This will include growing our work with volunteers, adapting the museum’s offer for covid-secure outdoor delivery, expanding our partnership with the Rivertime Boat Trust who support SEND education and reaching more and more schools through online learning.”

The museum is currently searching for a new director, following the departure of Dr Sarah Posey. She was appointed in June 2018, but left at the end of March, with Louise Wymer, a former trustee, currently leading the senior management team.

David Worthington, the chair of trustees, added: “We are absolutely thrilled to have been awarded this vital support from the Culture Recovery Fund. As a charity with no ongoing public funding, the covid crisis has had a very damaging effect on our museum’s income.

“This very welcome grant will help our small team make the significant adaptations needed to take the organisation into the new post-covid environment. 

“In the meantime, we continue our fundraising drive to help us to sustain our important work in sharing the art and stories of the river, to help cover our operational costs and to offset these substantial losses.”

When the museum opens next month, the galleries, Chocolate Café and shop will all be available, but it will continue to operate with safety measures. Tickets will go on sale from April 27.

The museum will also relaunch its exhibition on children’s writer and illustrator David McKee, which has been extended until June after being cut short when the third coronavirus lockdown was imposed in January.

Henley Town Council awarded a £15,000 grant to help the museum at the end of last year.

At the time, Dr Posey said additional sources of revenue had been created, such as charging for car parking. However, she said the charity had suffered greatly as a result of being unable to have visitors on a regular basis.

She said there was a projected reduction in income of 50 per cent and that the museum relies on commercial income for 65 per cent of its funds.

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