The Chapter of York, the governing body for York Minster, today published its Annual Report and Accounts for 2020. The document provides detailed information about Chapter’s financial performance in a year overshadowed by the Coronavirus pandemic.
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 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 very welcome underpinning of the Government’s furlough scheme and a small grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund Emergency Fund to cover reopening costs in summer 2020.
Operating costs for the year reduced by £1.2m as a result of reduced activity levels and the actions taken to achieve savings. However, overall after investment gains, Chapter experienced a £2m loss for the year, with a £2.5m loss on unrestricted funds offset by gains in restricted funds.
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.
Dean Jonathan said: “Between April and May 2020, the Chapter of York provided decisive leadership and clear direction to enable and initiate a restructuring for sustainable growth. For Chapter, each word was significant, and provided a purposeful framework and context for the processes, decisions and actions that would follow: there would need to be a restructuring to reduce the Minster’s cost base, the restructuring would need to deliver the greater integration and effectiveness of work-streams; and a sustainable organisation, over the financial medium to long term, in which there could be growth – not merely survival – in every area of operational activity designed to deliver the Minster’s core purpose and mission.”
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 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.”