Cathedral sets out plans to end budget deficit

Tony Kimber, St Edmundsbury Cathedral commercial director
Tony Kimber, St Edmundsbury Cathedral commercial director
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St Edmundsbury Cathedral has put in place a three-year plan to erase a £60,0000 budget deficit, but does not plan to charge admission.

The Bury St Edmunds cathedral’s commercial director Tony Kimber said the deficit will be £60,000 by the end of its financial year in December.

St Edmundsbury Cathedral

Picture Mark Westley

St Edmundsbury Cathedral Picture Mark Westley

He added: “I came in at the end of 2015 and what we have decided for this year is we won’t be aspirational as in the past, we will be stone cold realist and build a foundation for the future.

“We’re comfortable with this because we have a plan to get out of it so in three years time we’ll be in a much stronger position.”

As we reported last week, part of the plan is to close the Edmund Gallery in Angel Hill and let it commercially.

Mr Kimber said: “Our belief, speaking to estate agents and potential clients looking to rent, is that we can raise £12,000 to £17,000 a year.”

He said a number of commercial events were booked for the cathedral for 2018 but it was too early to go into detail of what they were.

“If you look at the things we’ve done in the past, we’ll do more of those,” he said. “West Suffolk College held its evening of achievement with a dinner here in November.

“There was a ball for Focus !2 a few years ago. It would have to be for the right organisation – we’re not going to open the doors to everyone.”

He stressed: “Our prime focus is religion and belief in God. There is something for everyone – we’re Suffolk’s cathedral.”

That is why they do not want to bring in an entry fee.

“On two occasions it’s come up at Chapter and it’s been very firm we’re not charging.,” Mr Kimber said. “The cathedral is here for people to see and we’ll find other ways to fund it.”

But they cannot rely on visitors’ voluntary donations. Though last year’s 80,000 visitors was 9,000 up on 2015, they gave nearly £10,000 less at £49,000.

“The average donation per person has dropped by 22p, from 84p to 62p,” he said. “There was probably a feeling of uncertainty through the year, especially after June because of Brexit.”

But he said their congregations were generous and praised the support of the 300 volunteers, who help the cathedral run with only nine full time and 22 part-time staff.