01 Feb 2021

Icon Coronavirus survey shows major impact on working and business

Icon’s Conservation and Coronavirus Impact Study shows that the ongoing Coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis continues to challenge the conservation sector and the people who work in our field

Icon's first Coronavirus Impact report, published in April, presented a worrying situation for conservation professionals, with 90% of respondents reporting serious economic consequences arising from lockdown restrictions.

In November 2020, as most of the UK returned to a state of lockdown, Icon launched a second survey to gather further information and data on how the pandemic was affecting conservators. In order to capture concerns unique to employers and employees, we ran the survey as two separate questionnaires with questions tailored to both groups.

We heard from 121 respondents in total. Key findings from our respondents include: 

  • Almost half of business owners reported their revenue had decreased by more than 50% compared to normal expectations for the time of year and a quarter estimated they only had up to 3 months of viable operational revenue.
  • Nearly 90% of employed conservators are working at reduced levels compared to before the outbreak, with a quarter expecting a reduction in their income in 2021.
  • Only 6% of micro and small business owners had made employees redundant but a third of employed conservators had experienced redundancies within their organisations.
  • The majority of respondents were planning to stay within conservation related work with only 3% of employers and 2% of employees planning a move to a non-heritage related field.
  • The outbreak has led to feelings of uncertainty and insecurity amongst conservators. However, employed conservators feel more secure and stable than business owners and the self-employed.
  • Loss of income, isolation and job insecurity resulting from the pandemic is affecting the mental health of conservators.

The results of this research are vital evidence about the impact of the pandemic on the conservation profession. Icon will use them to provide evidence for policy briefings, develop effective response strategies and coordinate support for conservators and the wider heritage sector.

Icon is grateful to all members who helped to build our evidence base by taking part in the research or by sharing case studies through other means. 

Read the summary report.

Read the report on employers.

Read the report on employees


It really matters – and we need your help. Icon makes the case to decision makers on issues that affect cultural heritage, and members are the foundation of our efforts. Join us today.