Warwickshire tourism organisation to be given extra funding from two councils
But the cash boost comes with conditions including one that will see hospitality and tourism businesses in the region benefit from free listings as they look to fight back from the impacts of various Covid lockdowns.
Shakespeare’s England will get an extra £25,000 from each council for the next two years in addition to the £75,000 already allocated.
A report drawn up ahead of this week’s cabinet meeting of Warwick District Council explained: “When it was established, the expectation was that by moving to a membership organisation, Shakespeare’s England would, over time, become self-funded and as such the obligation for public sector funding would diminish.
“The pandemic has had a devastating impact on the hospitality and tourism sector across south Warwickshire resulting in a significant impact on the local economy. Both Stratford District Council and Warwick District Council have worked hard to support the industry through the effective distribution of Government and voluntary Covid grant payments.
“However, both councils acknowledge that more needs to be done to rebuild the hospitality sector and strengthen the local economy. To this end, through their respective budget setting processes, as well as confirming the continuation of the £75,000 funding, the councils have each earmarked an additional £25,000 per annum.”
Warwick District Council’s portfolio holder for economy and culture, Cllr Liam Bartlett (Con, Warwick Aylesford), praised the work of Shakespeare’s England over the last few years.
He said: “Through Covid, they have acted as a central organisation that can pass out good information to the tourism industry and support business through what has obviously been a very challenging time.
“I recognise there are a lot of members who don’t see the obvious and immediate benefits of a relationship with Shakespeare’s England - but that is a relationship that goes two ways. It is down to us to search out that value they are providing.
“Yes £100,000 is a lot of money but for an organisation that ties together hundreds and hundreds of tourism businesses that spend hundreds of thousands of pounds in marketing - this is a really small contribution.”
The report explained that the proposal to replace the current three-tier paid membership structure with two tiers together with a free ‘website listing’ category was aimed at spreading the Shakespeare’s England brand and attracting smaller businesses in less touristy areas.
Cllr Bartlett added: “For me this is more about strategically positioning the organisation to provide the best benefits possible for businesses so the free listings are a key part of that. Businesses in this district should be able to access that free listing to get the benefit of the organisation.”