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Fish Quay Heritage Centre receives lifeline from Government’s £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund

North Shield’s Old Low Light Heritage Centre is one of almost 450 heritage organisations in England to receive a lifeline grant from the first round of the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage. 

The heritage centre, in the oldest surviving building on North Shields Fish Quay, has been awarded £25,600.

The financial boost from the £1.57 billion Government fund will help keep the Old Low Light afloat through the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

The fund, which is administered by Historic England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund, is designed to secure the future of Britain’s museums, galleries, theatres, independent cinemas, heritage sites and music venues with emergency grants and loans.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “As a nation it is essential that we preserve our heritage and celebrate and learn from our past. This massive support package will protect our shared heritage for future generations, save jobs and help us prepare for a cultural bounceback post covid.”

Guy Moody, director of the Old Low Light Heritage Centre said: “We’re so grateful to receive this grant as it gives us a very welcome buffer while we continue with our own fund raising efforts. It’s also wonderful that national bodies recognise the important part our centre plays in preserving and promoting the heritage of our local area.”

When the coronavirus lockdown was announced in March the Old Low Light was about to celebrate its fifth anniversary as a heritage centre and was looking forward for the first time to a period of financial stability. It is run by a charity and is currently open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 4pm, rather than the seven days a week before the coronavirus lockdown. It has a café and two gallery floors, one with exhibition materials about the heritage of the local area and the other with a special exhibition celebrating the centre’s achievements over its five years in existence.

Guy Moody added: “We were looking forward to a sound financial position in 2020 but sadly the reality is very different. Our reserves have been seriously depleted, we’re operating on reduced hours and unable to re-start our usual programme of events and activities which substantially helped our finances.

“However, our staff and volunteers are doing everything possible to ensure that customers to the café and visitors to our galleries have a safe and enjoyable experience and have been heartened by the positive comments they’ve been receiving.”

Duncan Wilson, Historic England’s Chief Executive said: “It is heartening to see grants, both large and small, from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund helping heritage sites and organisations across the country which have been hit hard by the effects of Covid-19. These grants range from giving skilled craft workers the chance to keep their trades alive to helping heritage organisations pay the bills, and to kick-starting repair works at our best-loved historic sites. The funding is an essential lifeline for our heritage and the people who work tirelessly to conserve it for us all, so that we can hand it on to future generations.”

Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive of the National Lottery Heritage Fund said: “It is absolutely right that investing in heritage should be a priority during this crisis and this support by Government is crucial.  Heritage creates jobs and economic prosperity, is a major driver for tourism and makes our towns, cities, and rural areas better places to live.  All of this is so important for our wellbeing and will be particularly vital when we start to emerge from this incredibly difficult time. 

“Our heritage is still facing a perilous future – we are not out of the woods yet.  But this hugely welcome funding from Government, and the money we continue to invest from the National Lottery, has undoubtedly stopped heritage and the organisations that care for it being permanently lost.”

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