£1m fund to help cathedral choirs weather impact of Covid-19

(Photo: Facebook/St Paul's Cathedral)

Cathedral choirs are to receive £1m in funding from the Church of England to ease the impact of Covid-19. 

The funding has been made available by the Church Commissioners and will go towards paying the salaries of choristers from September until the end of the year. 

It follows the announcement last week by the Government that churches can resume singing during public worship, but only if it is done by professional singers and takes place outside. 

The Church of England said it was supporting research by Public Health England examining the risk of spreading Covid-19 through singing. 

An additional £1.1m is being available to cover the salaries of other cathedral employees, while £2.5m has been earmarked for revitalisation projects and £800,000 will go towards supporting heritage skills like stonemasonry. 

The Third Estates Commissioner, Dr Eve Poole, said: "Our cathedrals are a vital part of England's built culture and heritage. As well as their spiritual role in society, through tourism they contribute significantly to their local economies.

"We are working with the Government to agree safe conditions for a return to singing, and our cathedrals are now open again to serve their congregations and communities.

"We know that there are many other choirs who are anxiously awaiting news, and in our conversations with Government we are pressing for broader support for this vital part of the nation's life."

"The challenge is enormous, and we are committed to looking at further ways to support cathedrals, and will continue to work with Government to identify partnerships to safeguard the long-term future of both our cathedrals and our churches."

The Dean of Leicester, David Monteith, who Chairs the College of Deans said it had been a "time of huge uncertainty" for cathedrals, their employees and congregations. 

"Every area of cathedral life has been affected by the restrictions to help combat Covid-19, but for many choral worship is at the very heart of what cathedrals offer in worship and as cultural beacons," he said. 

"While this support does not reverse the impact of Covid-19 restrictions, it can help to allay the short-term risks of the loss of these specialist roles, and we hope that the support from the community and the Church Commissioners will be further supported by the Government in its allocation of funding for the arts.

"In time we look forward to hearing inspiring music in our beautiful cathedrals up and down the land. This is music that might soothe our souls and lift our eyes towards the love of God beyond all the challenges we face."

The £1m provided by the Church Commissioners matches £1m raised by the Cathedral Music Trust to mitigate the impact of Covid-19. 

Trust Chairman Peter Allwood said the funds would go a long way to ensuring the survival of cathedral music. 

"The choral tradition is an integral part of the nation's cultural heritage which is unique and unsurpassed anywhere in the world," he said.

"As they emerge from the current pandemic, our cathedral choirs will face huge challenges to maintain their long tradition of choral excellence.

"We are committed to continuing to help them to do so, and to ensure many more lives are enriched by the opportunities to participate in and to hear choral singing."