English Heritage Trust (EHT) has been awarded an £80M grant over an 8 year period by the government, on the premise that by 2021 it will be financially independent through visitors revenues, merchandising income etc. Under these conditions, it can be expected that Stonehenge and the Stonehenge visitor centre, managed by EHT, will come against considerable pressures to be as economically performing as possible (revenues and expenditures), not only for its own sake, but for the sake of English Heritage Trust and its many other, less visited "properties". Such pressure may result in lowering expenditure, such as specialized or expert personnel, maintenance, standards of archaeological curation, etc., and also in increasing revenues: by channelling in more visitors for shorter times, by increasing fees, and by slashing free or reduced cost access (this notably applies to neighbouring communities - likely to increase with Military families’ influx - to 'druids' during solstice and equinox days, and also educational groups, schools or universities). At the same time, there is a possibility that the local Wiltshire authorities may also seek to obtain some material benefits from the property, and that some arrangements will have to be reached on this with English Heritage Trust.
While this is a more general point that may impact on English Heritage properties over the coming decade, it is recommended to already enshrine now certain principles of access and public service in the Stonehenge management plan or documents by English Heritage Trust. In addition, it is recommended to explore what implications there might be to a possible insolvency of English Heritage Trust by 2021 – whether bailout mechanisms might exist, or whether properties might have to be rented out or even sold to other bodies, such as local authorities, and indeed whether such a fate might possibly apply to Stonehenge itself.
From: Report on the joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Advisory mission to Stonehenge, Avebury and associated sites, 27-30 October 2015
" or whether properties might have to be rented out or even sold to other bodies, such as local authorities, and indeed whether such a fate might possibly apply to Stonehenge itself."ReplyDelete
Why would they be sold Tim? Ownership of most of the monuments remains in the hands of the Government. English Heritage's role is not yet set via a statutory instrument so they are presently temporary custodians until 2022/23 (though everyone involved will be hoping that it becomes permanent).
The best case scenario for the charity would be if they achieve goals that have a high perceived value but have not (or could not) been achieved under the old statutory format. The worst case would be if, after the 8 years are up, they are seen to be an under-performing version of the old format (that would leave them open to challenge from providers who can offer better value to the public)