An open gate at the end of a path, surrounded by trees. There is blue sky and sunshine. In the middle of the picture, a logo reading 'Here for Culture'
On 12 October, the government announced the recipients of grants from the multi-million pound Culture Recovery Fund, established by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to support arts and cultural organisations to survive the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Amongst the grants announced was just over £440,000 for Creswell Crags, near Worksop, one of the most significant grants for a museum or heritage site in the East Midlands.
With the only verified Ice Age cave art in the UK, fossil evidence of prehistoric inhabitation by early humans, mammoths and hyenas, and the largest assemblage of early modern ‘Witch Marks’ in the UK, the size of the grant reflects the national significance of the site, which is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and Site of Special Scientific Interest.
The outline of a bird's head, with a long beak, carved into limestone rock

Rock Art Ibis in Church Hole Cave at Creswell Crags, over 12,000 years old [photo credit: Paul Bahn]

Creswell Crags, which is run by Creswell Heritage Trust, a registered charity, was hit hard by the pandemic. Closed from mid-March to the start of August, it saw its visitor income wiped out over a period which is usually one of its busiest. Initial funding from Historic England, a rent holiday from landowners, The Welbeck Estate, plus smaller grants and a successful public fundraising campaign – including an auction hosted by Derbyshire celebrity auctioneer Charles Hanson – allowed the Trust, which furloughed all but four of its staff team, to survive long enough to successfully apply to the National Lottery Heritage Fund for emergency funding, which was awarded in July. The new grant, from the DCMS and delivered via Arts Council England, will see the Trust through the winter off-season but will also allow significant behind the scenes work to take place to ensure the charity is more resilient heading into 2021, with the capacity to maximise income streams and continue to offer visitors an outstanding experience at a site that is very well loved.
Dr Tim Caulton, Chair of Creswell Heritage Trust said, “We are incredibly grateful to the Culture Recovery Fund for providing support to Creswell Heritage Trust. This builds on the funding we have previously received from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Historic England, Bolsover District Council and many other generous funders and donors. Together, these funds provide security to the Trust for the short to medium term, enabling us to survive our enforced winter closure period, and to continue to restructure our organisation and visitor offer in preparation for a more resilient future.” 
Creswell Crags has seen a successful return of visitors to the site since August, with COVID-secure measures in place, and a new offer of private cave tours for household groups, and has announced programming for Halloween, including a family trail around the stunning outdoor site and special ‘Witch Marks’ cave tours. School groups have also started to return, and a new offer of livestreamed education sessions, direct to schools, is being piloted in October and November. This funding will allow the organisation to continue to adapt to the changing situation and legal requirements, while keeping staff and visitor safety at the core of its activities.

Sun sets over a gorge, with the sky reflected in a mirror calm lake

A swan at sunset at Creswell Crags