The economics of Blake’s Cottage is an integral part of the restoration project. Without an economic plan, the future of the Cottage would neither be secure nor viable.
So let us jump forward into the future and pre-suppose the restoration of the building is complete and the Cottage is now open to the public. Where is the revenue to come from in order to cover the running costs?
Heating and electricity, insurance, rates, gardening, maintenance, administration, and then there are the costs of the staff to welcome, inform and supervise the visitors as they wander upstairs and downstairs through the rooms of the Cottage …
The current cutbacks in government & council funding means there is no public money available for the running costs of such a project, and similarly, recurrent revenue funding is all but impossible to obtain from grant making trusts.
So the Cottage itself has to be independent and self-sufficient with its revenue equalling its costs.
Children and young people will be especially welcome at the Cottage, but no net income can be projected from such a source as the costs of supervision far outweigh any monies levied from a child’s entrance fee.
But there is tea & cakes and the sale of postcards & trinklets, I hear someone say, but is this to be Blake’s legacy – our nation’s greatest poet, artist and prophet reduced to petty penury?
To appoint a Director would give leadership & vision to the Cottage. Yet the director would need a wage and to make such an appointment meaningful she would need a budget at least equal to her salary. So immediately another £60k of running costs is added to the budget.
The answer to this economic challenge is to be found in a ‘visitors centre’ which could be funded successfully from a capital appeal and once built would give a broad economic grounding to the project – a versatile architecture for seminars, a gallery, a shop, a library, a cafe, an office for the director and accommodation for visitors to stay.
A Visitors Centre with a visionary architecture will draw people to the Cottage, to Blake and his Printing Press, and to the arts of the imagination. All these elements will give the Cottage an economic engine and an international fame – and most importantly for Blake, an independence.
No one will forget that Blake was accused of Sedition here in Sussex, so the Cottage needs an independent voice. The Cottage could then call upon local residents to give their time as volunteers for a nobler cause. Together here in Felpham we can create an economics of vision, a lighthouse to the world that will continue Blake’s pursuit of vision, truth and justice – a Blakeonomics.