Some of Cumbria’s biggest museums have been thrown “crucial” funding lifelines, securing their future for the rest of the financial year.

It was announced this week that Tullie House, Carlisle's flagship museum, is to receive £494,800 in Government funding designed to help it weather the continued effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on its financial position.

The Wordsworth Grasmere museum, including William and Dorothy Wordsworth’s former home Dove Cottage, is also to receive £242,355 from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund, which is worth £1.57bn in total.

Further rounds of funding to help support the cultural and heritage sectors across the country are due to be announced in the coming weeks.

Tullie House is one of the largest museums in Cumbria, welcoming over 200,000 visitors to the site every year.

As a charity, Tullie House relies heavily on admissions income and on the generosity of funders, donors, patrons and members.

As with all museums, the Covid-19 pandemic has severely curtailed visitor numbers for 2020, placing a strain on its financial position.

Tullie House director Andrew Mackay said the museum’s trust was “extremely grateful and relieved” to receive the funding.

He explained that the Culture Recovery Fund is aimed at “ensuring the survival of arts and culture venues this financial year."

“The award is a significant amount and will cover much of the income loss and additional costs incurred since lockdown commenced in mid-March," he said.

Mr Mackay added that, as a charity, the museum’s long-term survival remains dependent on income generated on site.

“We rely on people paying admission, buying refreshments and gifts and hiring our venue,” he said.

“Income has been severely restricted due to this dreadful pandemic.

“This grant will help us survive this financial year, but we still need people to visit us.

“We are a Covid-secure venue so please, if permitted, come and see what we have to offer. We need your support.”

This week’s announcement was also greatly welcomed by Kate Parry, manager of the Cumbria Museum Consortium, which oversees the county’s three biggest heritage and cultural organisations – Tullie House, Wordsworth Grasmere and Lakeland Arts in the south of the county, which is still awaiting news on whether it was successful in its bid for support from a subsequent round of funding.

Mrs Parry described the funding received this week as “crucial.”

“Although most of our sites are now open again, there was such a long period of time when the museums were closed, and not able to generate any income at all – yet we’re still incurring costs,” she said.

“This funding will mean that the museums can keep going for this financial year.”

Mrs Parry added that the funding was “largely plugging a gap,” and did not mean the long-term future of cultural venues in the county had cast-iron security.

“It’s a short term lifeline,” she said. “But it’s for this financial year. It takes us safely and happily into the spring.”

While a short-term solution, Mrs Parry nonetheless described the funding as a “huge relief.”

“It doesn’t necessarily answer all the problems longer term. What it does it gives the museums the space to reassess, rethink and work together to look at the next few years, to adapt the way that we operate in response to Covid.”

She added that as well as adapting the museums to the reality of Covid-19, there was also a focus on adapting their work in the community to the new situation.

“I think a lot of people think everything we do is in our museums.

“A lot of what we do is right across the county, working with some of the most vulnerable people in our communities, like older people with dementia, young people, children and so on.

“All of that work has to be re-thought.

“We need to work out how much of it can be delivered at the moment.

“This funding buys us that period of time to rethink and regroup.”

Carlisle MP John Stevenson expressed his delight at the support given this week from the Government to Tullie House and fellow Carlisle cultural enterprise, the Audio Collective.

“I am delighted that both Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery, as well as the Audio Collective have been awarded funding from the Government, to ensure that they remain open, following the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

“These venues provide culture and entertainment to a large number of my constituents, as well as to visitors to the city.

“The arts have numerous benefits, including improving people’s mental health, enabling people to learn a new skill and bringing the local community together.”