YORK Theatre Royal and the charity behind York’s world-famous Jorvik Viking Centre have been given massive grants to help them survive the Covid crisis – just in time.
The theatre is receiving £324,000 from Arts Council England’s Cultural Recovery Fund while the York Archaeological Trust is getting £1.9 million.
Theatre chief executive Tom Bird said yesterday that the money was ‘absolutely crucial’ in safeguarding its future, and would help ensure it could reopen on May 17 when audience capacity would be down but staffing and equipment costs would be up.
The trust revealed that its reserves are ‘exhausted,’ and that navigating the next three months would have been ‘very challenging’ without the money
“We had expected to be able to re-open attractions in time for the key Easter period, but now that has been delayed until mid-May,” said CEO David Jennings.
“This grant enables us to concentrate on re-opening safely for all those people who want to come to York and carry us through until visitor numbers return to pre-pandemic levels in the summer months.
Director of Attractions Sarah Maltby said one of the trust’s primary sources of income was from visitors to its five visitor attractions – the Viking Centre, DIG, Barley Hall, the Henry VII Experience at Micklegate Bar and the Richard III Experience at Monk Bar
She said this had been hugely disrupted over the last year, not only in terms of tourist numbers, but also in a massive fall in educational visits.
She revealed that whilst the Viking Centre, Barley Hall and DIG would re-open for pre-booked visits from May 17, neither of the Bar attractions would be reopening in their previous guise, after a relook at how they operated – particularly as they lacked facilities including running water.
“During the closures, Monk Bar has been redesigned to house sets for our digital educational programmes – and indeed, we hosted our Schools Week livestreams from here in February,” she said.
“Meanwhile, Micklegate Bar will house temporary exhibitions and displays to feature as part of a series of new archaeology themed walks and tours planned over the summer.”