(Church Times) Cathedrals face sharp drop in income

As churches learned this week that their coronavirus shutdown could end in July, administrators of the nation’s cathedrals are beginning to consider what life in the “new normal” will be like.

With their doors closed, many have adapted new technology, live-streaming services and linking remotely through apps such as Zoom. But cathedrals have also taken a severe financial hit, with the loss of collections, no visitor spending, and the cancellation of events that often fund a significant proportion of their annual expenditure.

“On top of daily worship, events are the bread and butter of what cathedrals do, but they are going to be low down on the list of things relaxed,” the Church Commissioners’ Head of Bishoprics and Cathedrals, Michael Minta, said. The Commissioners fund each cathedral’s dean, two residentiary canons, and some lay staff.

Cathedrals had had great expectations for 2020: the Year of Cathedrals and the Year of Pilgrimage were expected to boost visitor numbers and involvement. “There was a real positive vibe last year that things were really going to be good for everyone,” Mr Minta said. “But, instead, many have had to stand staff down, buildings are closed, their cafés and shops are shut, and income has been lost.”

Larger cathedrals, such as Canterbury and St Paul’s, which rely on tourism from overseas, have been badly affected; Durham’s 750,000 visitors, one third from overseas, provide one fifth of its annual revenue of £7 million.

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