Trustees expect visitor numbers at the Bronte Parsonage Museum in Haworth to be considerably down well into 2021, and there will also be a major loss of revenue from cancelled events.
Despite receiving an emergency grant from Arts Council England that enabled the Society to re-open the museum on August 28, several members of staff are now likely to lose their jobs.
The museum, which occupies the parsonage where authors Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronte lived with their father, the village curate, has been in the hands of the Bronte Society for almost 100 years. The lockdown closure was the longest in its history.
Over 70 per cent of the organisation's income comes from visitor admissions, events and retail, and the lost spring and summer season had a 'devastating' impact on its finances. Recovery is expected to be slow.
A fundraising campaign, online events and a membership drive generated some income during lockdown, but the Society now says it is now 'painfully evident' that it needs to cut costs in order for the museum to remain open. Staff have now been notified of a period of consultation which could lead to redundancies.
Chair of trustees Trish Gurney said: “We are very sad to be in this position, but difficult decisions are now necessary in order for the charity to survive. Our staff are experienced, talented and dedicated individuals who care deeply about our collections and sharing the Bronte legacy, and we are committed to supporting them during this painful and distressing time.
"We would like to thank everyone who has supported us during recent months by becoming a member of the Society, purchasing from our online shop or donating to our Justgiving campaign. We are determined to overcome the challenges of the immediate and longer-term future so that our world-class collections can continue to inspire generations of visitors and audiences.”