Survey of COVID-19 Effects on the Heritage Sector

This survey analyses the impact of COVID-19 on businesses within the heritage sector. Responses were obtained from 557 microbusinesses, 9 larger businesses (those with over 100 employees) and 97 entirely volunteer-run organisations. Results show that the impact of coronavirus on business were widespread and severe as 4 out of 5 businesses reported lost business in the short term.

Date added 17 August 2021
Last updated 17 August 2021

This survey analyses the impact of COVID-19 on various types of businesses within the heritage sector. Responses were obtained from 557 microbusinesses, 9 larger businesses (those with over 100 employees) and 97 entirely volunteer-run organisations. Results show that the impact of coronavirus on business were widespread and severe as 4 out of 5 businesses (76%) reported lost business in the short term. 3 out of 5 (58%) had postponed or cancelled income-generating events. Additionally, whilst only 5% had decided to terminate employment contracts, 39% of respondents had furloughed staff. 31% reported increased operating costs and lack of volunteers (27%) and delayed payment by debtors (24%) were also frequently reported business impacts.

Despite over a third of respondents considering the Job Retention Scheme and deferral of tax payments promising, more than half were awaiting further clarification of Government support measures at the time of the survey. However, 90% of businesses felt able to keep going in the short term if they were to be supported by the government.

Respondents were also asked to state whether they felt that the crisis might result in better ways of working in the future. Several of those who saw positive changes pointed to the increased use of video conferencing and social media to remain in touch with others and to manage work remotely. Working remotely was also associated with savings in both time and carbon emissions from reduced travelling. Of those who were less optimistic, the main concern was the economic impact of the epidemic and the subsequent consequences for public and private funding of heritage projects.

Survey analysis concludes that the most vulnerable respondents were craftspeople / smaller crafts-based businesses and 'professional services' such as architects, surveyors and engineers. This was mostly due to over 40% of these types of businesses forecasting their businesses failing within 3 months despite the current Government support scheme.