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Cultural gems jubilant after £250,000 emergency windfall

PUBLISHED: 13:01 14 October 2020 | UPDATED: 13:34 14 October 2020

Bressingham Steam Museum has received a grant of almost £200,000 from the government's Culture Recovery Fund. Picture: Denise Bradley

Bressingham Steam Museum has received a grant of almost £200,000 from the government's Culture Recovery Fund. Picture: Denise Bradley

Archant

Two of south Norfolk’s cultural gems have received a crucial cash boost to help offset the financial implications of the coronavirus crisis.

Diss Corn Hall has received a £55,000 grant from the government's Culture Recovery Fund. Picture: Sonya Duncan.Diss Corn Hall has received a £55,000 grant from the government's Culture Recovery Fund. Picture: Sonya Duncan.

Diss Corn Hall was granted £54,950 from the first phase of the government’s Culture Recovery Fund (CRF), while Bressingham Steam Museum was the recipient of £193,409.

Forced to shut as lockdown was introduced, the attractions have been left struggling throughout the pandemic - even doubting their ability to survive.

But both have been handed a funding lifeline as they work tirelessly to adapt to unprecedented and increasingly unpredictable circumstances.

Lee Johnson, operations manager at Diss Corn Hall, said: “This was a really big relief for us. What it does is see us through until the end of March and puts us on a completely different footing.

Bressingham Steam Museum has received a grant of almost £200,000 from the government's Culture Recovery Fund. Picture: Denise BradleyBressingham Steam Museum has received a grant of almost £200,000 from the government's Culture Recovery Fund. Picture: Denise Bradley

“This time last week we were worrying we wouldn’t get any funding and thinking about what we might need to do instead.”

The Corn Hall and Bressingham are two of 22 arts organisations in Norfolk and Waveney who have benefitted from a share of £3.2m for the region’s arts sector.

Across the country, 1,385 theatres, galleries, performance groups, arts organisations and cultural venues received £257m from the CRF, which totals £1.57bn overall.

In recent days it has also boosted the heritage sector, with Pulham St Mary’s Pennoyer Centre granted almost £70,000.

Lee Johnson, operations manager at Diss Corn Hall, has been left delighted after the venue received a £55,000 grant from the government's Culture Recovery Fund. Picture: Courtesy of Lee JohnsonLee Johnson, operations manager at Diss Corn Hall, has been left delighted after the venue received a £55,000 grant from the government's Culture Recovery Fund. Picture: Courtesy of Lee Johnson

But, while appreciative of the government’s tough task, Mr Johnson said further investment in the arts must be more proactive.

“£1.57bn is clearly a record amount of money, but has only come about because of the pandemic,” he added.

“Arts and culture creates £13.5bn for the Treasury every year, which is a huge amount. The government needs to look at the benefits on a long-term basis.”

Over the years, Bressingham has become one of Norfolk’s most popular days out and currently boasts four railway lines winding through magnificent gardens.

Bressingham Steam Museum has received a grant of almost £200,000 from the government's Culture Recovery Fund. Picture: Denise BradleyBressingham Steam Museum has received a grant of almost £200,000 from the government's Culture Recovery Fund. Picture: Denise Bradley

But several months of closure completely wiped out this year’s all-important summer season, leaving the attraction with no means of income and under threat of financial ruin.

Having received a welcome boost to see them through the tricky winter months, Bressingham Steam and Gardens said it was “thrilled” with the windfall.


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