Call for Jane Austen fans to help save West centre
APOPULAR museum dedicated to the life of Jane Austen could be forced to close after being hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
Bosses at the centre in Bath are hoping to raise £15,000 to be able to pay staff, essential bills and ensure necessary safety measures are in place.
The tourist attraction is entirely dependent on the money brought in by visitors but has seen its footfall drop to zero following the outbreak of Covid-19.
This is in comparison to the 150,000 or so people it would usually welcome through the door each year.
The Jane Austen Centre is also popular with celebrities, having hosted Ricky Gervais and Alan Titchmarsh – among others – over the last two decades.
Director Paul Crossey is now appealing for financial help to ensure the museum survives postlockdown.
Austen lived in the city between 1801 and 1806 and set her novels Northanger Abbey and Persuasion there.
Mr Crossey said: “We are a small, independent business that relies solely on the 150,000 or so visitors that come through our doors each year.
“Obviously, since lockdown, that number has dropped to nil. Even when we do open again, possible travel bans and enhanced restrictions within the tourist industry in general, will make the period following reopening tough.
“So far, our fundraising campaign has raised almost a third of the total £15,000 required and every pound counts. If you are feeling more generous, however, there are rewards for those who donate higher amounts.
“These include 12 months unlimited free entry to the centre when it does re-open, cream teas and champagne.
“If we do get through this, then every champagne cork popped will be celebrating our survival.”
The centre, on Gay Street, is not the only Austen-related establishment in need of money.
Jane Austen’s House in Chawton, Hampshire, was recently saved by generous donations.
Mr Crossey added: “We’re aware Chawton recently held a successful fundraising campaign and we’re happy the house Jane Austen lived in and completed her most famous novels has been saved.
“Bath, however, also played an important part in her life. She lived here for several years and two of her novels are set in the city. Even though our target is more modest than Chawton’s, it is just as essential we reach our target so that her connection to the city is maintained.
“That is why we are asking everyone, whether a Jane Austen fan or not, to contribute to making sure the centre continues.”
Jane Austen’s House in Chawton, Hampshire, was recently saved by generous donations. It is hoped The Jane Austen Centre in Bath, below, will also survive