Ely Cathedral ‘doing better’ than other cathedrals across country who are ‘really struggling’

Despite having to make redundancies and projecting a £700,000 deficit because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Ely Cathedral is “doing better” than some other cathedrals across the country who are “really struggling”.

The Dean of Ely, The Very Reverend Mark Bonney, said “I think we are in a better place than some others; it’s interesting that it’s some of the bigger beasts that have been hit the most, for example Westminster Abbey, St Paul’s Cathedral, Canterbury Cathedral.

He said that with foreign visitors accounting for 20 per cent of Ely Cathedral’s footfall, and with the capacity for their Sunday Services halved to between 100 and 120, “I have absolutely no reason to be complacent.

“We used to get a much broader geographic demographic; we would normally have coach trippers and people coming for big events and concerts.

“I don’t think it is going to be easy to bounce back,” he added, saying that the cathedral had received some money - “they’ve not given us any extra cash but they’ve released some early to help with cash” - from The Church Commissioners for England.

“In all sorts of ways, the world is going to be different and we need to shape ourselves differently.”

One of the ways Ely Cathedral is reshaping itself is by offering virtual services - “we did those from our studies and clergies” - and planning to hold socially distanced concerts.

Most Read

While he says the cathedral has been “fortunate” to receive the funding, “you can always hope for some more, but the pots of money and availability has got to be limited”.

Having been closed for three-and-a-half-months throughout lockdown, and with half the normal number of visitors since re-opening to the public in July, the management team have had to “tighten our belts”.

While 80-90 per cent of its staff were placed on the government’s furlough scheme, redundancies have since been made.

“Next year, again, we’re looking at an unhealthy three-figure deficit - but we are fortunate to have some reserves to help us through that.

“If it continues much longer than that, we’ll be in severe difficulties.”