The pandemic has had a ‘catastrophic impact’ on the finances of York Minster.
The cathedral suffered a net deficit of more than £2.3 million in the year to 31 December 2020, compared to a £332,000 surplus the year before.
Its latest accounts published today show the effect of the Minster’s closure to visitors on its bank account.
It was shut 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 largest single income stream – from sightseeing visitors – dropped by £3.7m (74%) to £1.3m (compared to £5m in 2019). Overall total income decreased by 40% to £6.5m (£10.4m in 2019).
The loss in visitor income was partly offset by significant additional emergency grant support from the York Minster Fund and central Church of England funds, the Government’s furlough scheme and a small grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund Emergency Fund to cover reopening costs in summer 2020.
Closed the school
The Rt Revd Dr Jonathan Frost, Dean of York, said they had restructured the Minster’s finances to enable sustainable growth.
Dean Jonathan continued: “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.
Concluding he said: “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.