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'Catastrophic impact' on York Minster after £2 million drop in income

by Donna Birrell

York Minster suffered a drop in income of more than £2million last year due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Accounts from the Chapter of York, the Minster’s governing body, show that revenue from visitors  dropped by 74% to £1.3m - compared to £5m in 2019.

The 2020 financial accounts demonstrate the catastrophic impact of the pandemic which resulted in the Minster having to close its doors to visitors for a significant portion of the year.

The accounts to the year ended 31 December 2020 show a net deficit of £2,317,000 before gains on investments, compared to a surplus of £332,000 in 2019.

The cathedral closed completely from mid-March until the end of June. It then reopened with Covid-secure measures and severely reduced capacity from July to October and in December. This resulted in a drastic reduction in the total number of visitors and worshippers to the Minster in 2020 with just under 147,500, compared to almost 706,500 in 2019.

The loss in visitor income was partly offset by emergency grant support from the York Minster Fund and central Church of England funds and a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund Emergency Fund.

The Rt Revd Dr Jonathan Frost, Dean of York, said that the unprecedented financial and economic emergency caused by Covid-19, had required a rapid and resolute response from Chapter to protect the Minster's reserves and to secure York Minster itself as a going concern :

"Between April and May 2020, the Chapter of York provided decisive leadership and clear direction to enable and initiate a restructuring for sustainable growth. 

"In two phases of restructuring the Chapter of York took hard but, I believe, the right decisions: to close its Minster School; to secure the future of York Minster's internationally renowned choral tradition, through a new partnership with St Peter's School, York and to work with elected staff representatives to deliver a process which saw, with great sadness, the departure of 55 valued colleagues from the Minster's staff community.

"Covid has changed the world and changed us all. The Community at the Minster, drawn from all those who serve here, lay and ordained, paid and volunteer, came together during 2020 to weather the storm with courage, with tenacity and with care for one another. We take heart from what was achieved during a time of great difficulty and affirm our commitment to continuing to serve one another, and to 'Living Christ's Story' in our City, our Diocese and our Province - as the Minster has done for over 1000 years."

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