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Yorkshire Times
Voice of the North
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10:10 AM 30th July 2020

Jorvik Group Says ‘Thank You’ For National Lottery Support

A grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund has been praised for helping three attractions in the JORVIK Group re-opening following their Covid-19 closure. A £50,000 grant helped prepare JORVIK Viking Centre, Barley Hall and DIG with their re-opening planning, safety measures and communications.

“Our attractions all come under the charitable banner of York Archaeological Trust, and the expense of restructuring our attractions so that they would operate with social distancing guidelines, additional safety measures and reduced visitor numbers was considerable, especially have lost three and a half months of admissions revenue across the group,” says Sarah Maltby, director of attractions.

“We secured a £50,000 grant, which has been spent across the attractions on all the safety measures you see, as well as funding staff costs to completely reconfigure three established attractions to meet ever-changing requirements.”

Items funded by the scheme include the safety equipment visitors will see around the attractions, from digital thermometers and thermal cameras to monitor visitors’ temperatures, to sanitising stations and equipment to keep the attractions as safe as possible. Even Viking interpreters are wearing PPE alongside their more traditional 10th century clothing – an essential anachronism to keep both staff and visitors safe.

“Visiting all three attractions is a different experience since we re-opened. At JORVIK, we’ve had to completely reconfigure our initial ‘Discover Coppergate’ gallery, as our film projected onto the walls would have been obscured by visitors observing social distancing, but the fund supported the team in creating new live interpretation which has been incredibly well-received by visitors – and indeed, which also extends the time many people spend in the attraction as distancing necessitates a slower pace of visit,” adds Sarah.

Similarly, at Barley Hall, the shop has been moved to a different part of the building, and a one-way system created so that visitors can see all part of the historic manor house – including the Magic & Mystery Exhibition – without crossing paths with other visitors. At DIG, fogging equipment has been purchased so that visitors can still enjoy digging through pits in a recreation of a real archaeological dig, although visitors are now required to wear gloves when doing so.

“So much planning, expert advice, risk assessing and, at times, changes to our physical infrastructure have been required to re-open safely, but we know that we are a critical part of York’s destination offering, and everyone across the tourism and hospitality sectors needs to pull together if we are to recover,” she says. “We are hugely grateful to National Lottery Players for making it possible for The National Lottery Heritage Fund to provide support exactly when and where it was needed, and it is a testament to this funding that we were able to welcome 8,500 in just over a week of re-opening. Indeed, over half said that our new measures had a positive impact on their visitor experience – which means there has never been a better time to visit.”

Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said:
“Heritage has an essential role to play in making communities better places to live, supporting economic regeneration and benefiting our personal wellbeing. All of these things are going to be even more important as we emerge from this current crisis.

“Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players we are pleased to be able to lend our support to organisations such as the JORVIK Group during this uncertain time.”

Prebooking is required at all three of the re-opened JORVIK Group attractions: visit jorvikvikingcentre.co.uk for details.