The unprecedented events of 2020 will go down in history — but this January Cadw is celebrating results from the previous financial year, April 2019–March 2020.
The historic environment service has today (12 January) released its annual report for the period — revealing a record-breaking income revenue of more than £8 million.
A rise of 4% on the previous year, Cadw cites this success as the backbone of its resilience through the pandemic — providing finance for everything from essential conservation projects to the development of a new online ticketing programme by summer 2020.
The report states that during April 2019–March 2020, Cadw’s innovative campaigns and events — such as the Kids’ History Festival in August — helped attract 1.26 million visitors to Wales’s historic sites, resulting in an impressive admissions revenue of £4.7 million.
Meanwhile, the number of Cadw members hit an impressive peak, with 44,100 registered by the end of the financial year — generating an income of nearly £1 million.
Although impacted by the storms of February 2020 and the closure of all Cadw sites in mid-March, the above results put the organisation in good stead for the ensuing COVID-19 crisis — allowing its core work of caring for the historic environment to continue, all while ensuring the benefit of local businesses, host communities and Cadw members.
In fact, Cadw has continued to grow its loyal member base through the difficult months of the pandemic — with 45,596 live members to date and a year-to-year retention rate of 87%.
These successes can largely be attributed to the organisation’s values of leadership, professionalism, passion, creativity, authenticity and respect — put in place by the brand new Cadw board, created in 2019.
Furthermore, all of Cadw’s work is informed by the Priorities for the Historic Environment of Wales — published by the Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Dafydd Elis-Thomas, in 2018. These priorities are defined as: caring for our historic environment, making skills matter, delivering through partnerships, cherishing and enjoying our historic environment and making our historic environment work for Wales’s economic well-being.
Cadw addressed each of these priorities in 2019-20, not only through the aforementioned commercial successes — but also by investing nearly £5.5 million into vital conservation work and facilities management at Cadw sites and the wider historic environment in Wales.
Allowing heritage protection and conservation to continue safely during the pandemic, this investment covered a huge range of small-scale and major programmes of work — including those planned for Caerphilly Castle, Tretower Court and the King’s Gate at Caernarfon Castle.
The 2019-20 report also details a greater focus on continued professional development at Cadw — an important priority with more than 40,000 Welsh jobs supported by the heritage construction, historic environment and heritage tourism sectors.
During this year alone, five exceptional members of staff were supported to undertake external qualifications in accountancy, marketing, tour guiding and conservation — the last of these run by the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.
External enterprise, stakeholder, community and historical peer partnerships were also used to hone the wide variety of skills at Cadw — from traditional craft expertise and deep archaeological knowledge, to the use of innovative technology and new marketing initiatives.
Furthermore, September 2019 saw Cadw partner with hundreds of public, private and voluntary heritage bodies for the annual festival of Open Doors. Led by Cadw, the month-long event saw 245 of Wales’s hidden history gems open for free — with more than 34,000 visitors welcomed and given the chance to cherish and enjoy the historic environment of Wales.
Gwilym Hughes, Head of Cadw, said:
“The outstanding results in our report for 2019-20 show how Cadw succeeded in fulfilling its remit to protect the Welsh historic environment, while improving public access and making Welsh heritage work for communities and visitors alike.
“Since then, the Cadw team has battled against many unprecedented challenges — but our remit is unchanged. Prior to the latest lockdown, we worked diligently to reopen sites safely, continue our critical conservation work and undertake other activities that raise awareness of Welsh heritage.
“It’s wonderful to reflect on the outstanding achievements of the last financial year — but as we look back on 2020 as a whole, I would like to sincerely thank our loyal Cadw members and visitors for their unwavering support. We are so very grateful and look forward to welcoming you back to our collection of historical sites — just as soon as we can.”
Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Dafydd Elis-Thomas, said:
“In 2019-20 Cadw endeavoured to find new ways of engaging residents and visitors alike in the rich history of Wales, all while fulfilling the historic environment priorities I set in 2018 –– and it’s safe to say that the objectives were met.
“What’s more, the hard work delivered and record-breaking results secured during the period unknowingly paved the way for Cadw to remain strong, resilient and positive during some of the most difficult months of 2020. So, as we look ahead to what we all hope will be a brighter 2021, I’d like to thank everyone at Cadw for their hard work during 2019 and 2020. Your dedication has made all the difference.
“Cadw sites play a vital role in contributing towards the Welsh tourism economy, and I hope that even more people will be encouraged to discover our fascinating history as Wales looks forward to welcoming visitors again, when it is safe to do so.”