Saturday, 14 February 2009

More than a church

We shouldn’t think of our Cathedral as one big church but instead as closer in size to one small diocese. This came to mind again yesterday when I was reminded at the Cathedral Council meeting that its annual turn over is over £3 million, which is more on one day than that of the village church in this parish in one year.

It doesn’t see itself primarily as a business - it sees itself as a church and one example of a strap line is ‘Lincoln Cathedral: a holy place for all’ - but it simply has to operate a lot of the time as a major business. So, we learnt, it commissioned a report on its ‘economic and social impact’ which has just been published. English Heritage and the Association of English Cathedrals had done something similar in 2004. The exercise is obviously in part to impress upon potential funders that they are not just being asked to support a big church.

It is fascinating how much can be quantified. A quarter of the visitors in a sample period came from overseas, and an assessment of its impact on the local tourist industry concluded that the equivalent of 650 jobs are dependant on its being there, including 7% of all the tourism related jobs in its economic region. That is before one starts to assess its impact in terms of things like culture, craft skills, education, regeneration and retail. An analysis of its impact on house prices (measurable up to two miles away) and industry (where there is an impact on level of inward investment) also shows what a difference having it there makes to the local economy.

I took the picture on my way to the meeting. The house on the right is where I lived when working for the diocese ten years ago. The magnificent one on the left with the turret is called ‘Wold View’ and I like to assume that the name meant the Lincolnshire Wolds could really be seen from there a hundred years ago before the north Lincoln houses and estates were developed.

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