The first stage of the new Heritage Horizon Awards has now closed, having initially been announced in the summer.

The preliminary stage of the 2020-21 process saw National Lottery Heritage Fund call for expressions of interest from throughout the heritage sector. The £50 million set aside for investments of £5 million or over has been dwarfed by the applications which reached a combined total of £1.3 billion.

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“The high level of interest shows that, despite 25 years of us investing £8 billion in the UK’s heritage, there’s still a huge amount of demand for our funding.  This is really encouraging – it suggests widespread awareness of the value of heritage to tourism, jobs, economic prosperity and wellbeing,” according to Ros Kerslake, CEO of the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

“We have asked in particular for ambitious, innovative and transformational projects, substantial proposals for recognising the contribution of The National Lottery and a particular focus on our strategic priorities: landscape and nature, heritage at risk and inclusion. Early indications are that we are seeing some very interesting and exciting ideas.

“It’s great that our new, light-touch expressions of interest stage has encouraged so many organisations to put forward their ideas.  With such a high level of interest, we will inevitably have to make some difficult decisions but ultimately we will be funding and providing guidance to a group of major projects that will set a new benchmark for what can be achieved through investment in heritage,” she added.

Ideas deemed to show ‘strong potential’ will progress to the next phase of the awards and will then be invited to present to a panel of judges later this year. Those subsequently shortlisted will then be tasked with submitting a development phase application by September 2020.

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