Exeter Cathedral needs to raise funds to ensure that it can properly fulfil its role as the Mother Church of Devon, with:
- High quality worship
- Proper facilities for civic and ceremonial gatherings and a whole host of cultural events
- World class music, and
- An outstanding centre for learning for all ages.
To achieve this we shall:
- Repair and renovate the fabric of the Cathedral itself, and the other historic buildings in its precincts. This will improve hospitality and accessibility to visitors, and allow for the more effective working of the Cathedral and its long term sustainability
- Increase the endowment fund for music at the Cathedral to ensure our choir of adults and children can continue to flourish for the long term
- Provide suitable exhibition space for the internationally significant treasures held by the Cathedral Library and Archives, and
- Enhance our education and learning programmes and opportunities.
Our 13th century misericord seats are the earliest set in the country and need urgent work to protect them
Essential works to the Cathedral include:
- Conservation of the 13th century Misericords which are cracking, and beginning to drop off the stalls. These 50 seats are the earliest set in the country with elaborate carving, and need urgent work to protect them
- Conservation of the 13th century Chapter House. This will include uncovering and conserving the precious 14th century wall paintings — one of the largest collections in the UK — and conserving the painted wooden ceiling
- Renewing leaking concrete roofs which date from the 1940s, following WWII bomb damage
- Conservation of the medieval stained glass
- Renewing the failed mechanical and electrical infrastructure – much of which is condemned or ready to break down
- Improving access and people flow through the building and precincts with a new Cloister Gallery
- Improving facilities and interpretation for worshippers, volunteers and visitors, and providing WCs in the Cathedral for the first time
- Restoration of Church House – a Georgian building in the Cloister in need of urgent attention, with a roof beyond further repair.
Alongside the conservation work we need to address the visitor flow and visitor experience — proper storage will clear the Cathedral of clutter. Currently the transepts and aisles all house chairs, staging, display boards, and other essential ‘stuff’ that has nowhere to live.
It is not at all easy for people to find the Café, visit the loo or make a purchase from the Shop as there is no obvious visitor flow around the site. The new Cloister Gallery, connecting the Cathedral with the Chapter House and the Pearson Building, will remedy this, and also offer opportunities for interpretation, temporary exhibitions and social gatherings.
People under the age of 35 and families with children are among our focus audiences for deepening engagement.
Externally commissioned audience research from separate studies over the past 10 years has identified the profile of our core audience. From analysis, there are a number of gaps in our engagement with people. Together with our recent targeted consultations, we have determined that our effort to widen and deepen our engagement will focus in the following areas:
- Local people (encourage them and those who stay with them on holiday)
- Local and visiting people under the age of 35
- Visitors on day trips to the city including families with children
- Education and learning opportunities for children and adults, aiming for twice as many school visits
- Engagement with the thousands who use Cathedral Green for leisure, including Christmas Market’s 600,000 attendees
- Invest in outreach, promotion and marketing to engage with a wider demographic, hard-to-reach groups and other non-users
New interpretation of the building and its treasures will enhance the visitor experience for the general visitor, as well as for specialists in architecture and history, using:
- new interpretation panels in the Cathedral
- new digital archive stations which can be regularly updated
- virtual reality (with Vista AR project with Exeter University) and interactives
- training for staff, tour guides and volunteers in storytelling and offering a welcome to younger people and those with special needs.
The Cathedral’s economic impact is approximately £6.2m a year, using the AIM economic toolkit. This is in addition to the £33m economic impact each year generated by the Cathedral’s Christmas Market. By increasing footfall, the project will significantly boost the local economy.
The Cathedral was built as a place of wonder. Implicit in its architecture and the organisation’s mission is to improve people’s well-being. The Vista AR visitors’ survey, 2018, states: ‘Most visitors are motivated to visit in order to escape from the busy daily lifestyle and have a chance to experience peace. This suggests that a large number of visitors perceive the cathedral as a place of spiritual restoration and significance.’ Wellbeing is important for us all.