The Bletchley Park Trust, the host of Britain’s National Museum of Computing and the site of critical feats of wartime code-cracking, has hit financial strife and expects to lay off around a third of its staff.
The Trust posted news of its plight late last week, writing that it “is proposing to restructure as a result of the financial impact of the coronavirus crisis.”
“The impact of the pandemic has meant that from March to July this year it [the Trust] lost over 95% of its income leaving a large gap in its annual budget,” the post stated, and will likely lead to a loss of £2m this year that necessitates a restructure. That effort “includes a possible 35 redundancies, approximately a third of the workforce” as a measure to reduce outgoings.
“We have built a very successful heritage attraction and museum at Bletchley Park and its principal strength is its people,” said CEO Iain Standen. “However, the economic impact of the current crisis is having a profound effect on the Trust’s ability to survive. We have exhausted all other avenues, and we need to act now to ensure that the Trust survives and is sustainable in the future.”
The reason for the Trust’s troubles are simple: the pandemic has stopped visitors from visiting, firstly because the site closed during lockdowns and because people are reluctant to go out since they eased.
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The Trust furloughed 85 per cent of its staff and managed to secure some additional funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, but those savings and extra cash injection did not enable the organisation to keep operating at its current level of expenditure.
“Savings have also been identified within the Trust’s annual budget which include reducing costs in marketing, new exhibitions, travel, IT, printing and introducing new processes to improve the efficiency of the organisation,” the organisation’s post said. “Whilst these will help reduce the financial impact in the short-term, they alone are not enough. The medium to long term implications of social distancing and living with the consequent lower visitor numbers, has meant the need for a radical review of the Trust’s organisation, spending and priorities.”
The Trust aims to “educate people from all over the world in order to inspire them with Bletchley Park’s crucial role in World War Two” and has done so by offering exhibits of the facilities used to crack codes during the conflict, the mansion and temporary exhibits.
Another on-site attraction is the National Museum of Computing, which remains a tenant of the Trust, has its own entrance and charges a separate entry fee. The Museum is currently closed and anticipates re-opening on September 8th.
The cuts to staff and other programs are proposed, rather than set in stone. But CEO Standen appears not to have any alternative plan, or hope of devising one without extra assistance.
“I had hoped that we might avoid the need to do this, but we find ourselves with no other choice if we are to secure the future of the Bletchley Park Trust,” he said. ®