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Hampstead’s Keats House faces £73,000 Covid-19 loss

PUBLISHED: 17:00 16 October 2020

Keats House in Keats Grove, NW3. Picture: Polly Hancock

Keats House in Keats Grove, NW3. Picture: Polly Hancock

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Visitor numbers at Keats House dropped by 96% amid the Covid-19 pandemic, as the house is set to make a loss of more than £73,000 this year.

Reports set to be presented to a City of London Corporation committee on Thursday said that income targets for admissions, shop sales, events and private hire will not be met in 2020/21, leading to a projected loss of £73,216.

A newly launched exhibition on John Keats and Consumption as part of the programme for John Keats’ 200th death was halted after just six weeks in March due to the virus, meaning only 1,000 people were able to see it. The Keats Foundation’s annual conference was also cancelled.

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The house in Keats Grove was home to the romantic poet between 1818 and 1820. After closing on March 18, it reopened on July 26, just over a week after Keats Community Library welcomed in members again.

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Since then it suffered a steep drop in visitors. Only 333 people went between reopening and September 30, compared to 3,495 in the same time period last year. A lack of contactless payments in the house’s shop has meant no income since reopening, compared to £14,200 from last year.

Privately run events have also been hit, with one regular client worth £4,000 of bookings cancelling all events with “no indication of a return”. The licence for Keats Community Library to operate from next door to the house expired in April and discussions are taking place between the library’s trustees and the City of London Corporation about its renewal.

Keats House’s principal curator, Rob Shakespeare said: “Despite the obvious challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic, we were delighted to reopen Keats House – both safely and successfully – in July.

“The house remains open for pre-booked visits with the £2 ‘Community ticket’ rate for Camden residents and free tickets for those aged 18 and under.

“We are marking the Keats200 bicentenary through online activity and events available as part of the City of London Corporation’s #OurCityTogether initiative.”


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