Mega Subsidy Nimwegen Saint Stephan Church for new roof and new windows
The Saint Stephan Church, the Nimwegen icon, receives a mega subsidy of €5.5/£4.8/CA$8.4 million for restoration. The money is intended for an almost completely new roof covering and replacement of the worn stained-glass windows. The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science is making the grant available from a new €34/£30/CA$52 million pool for large national monuments. The Saint Stephan Church gets the biggest bite from the 29 projects awarded. For example, the Eusebius Church in Arnheim gets ‘only’ €1/£0.9/CA$1.5 million.
C.E.O. Heleen Wijgers, who has lobbied firmly for the government subsidy as the foundation director, is very happy. ,,I knew we were in the race, but this is an enormous amount. It is a beautiful recognition for the significance of the building as cultural-historical heritage, but it may be more a recognition of the way we function as a multifunctional church in society.” Every year, in addition to oecumenical services, numerous manifestations, lectures and university events take place here. The church is supported by hundreds of volunteers, ‘friends of Stevenskerk’ and Steveniers (a ‘Stevenier’ adopts the church financially for 1 day per year, at a rate of €365/£321/CA$560 a year, for a period of at least 5 years; in theory the church could collect this way €133,225/£117.331/CA$204.345 per year, but there are still a lot of vacant days). The house of God attracts 135,000 visitors annually. For the attraction of tourists alone, support for the church is logical according to Wijgers. ,,For every euro, Nimwegen gets 1.40 euros back.”
The roof repair was one of the biggest wishes of the managing foundation. “A condition to be ready as far as possible in 2022 for the celebration of the 750th anniversary of the church,” said Wijgers. The roof, with impressive height differences, is covered over the full surface with aged slate or slate slabs. Wijgers: ,,If we do nothing now, then you know for sure that it will leak everywhere sooner or later.” In 2014 and 2015 a small part has already been replaced. Everywhere under the surface are wooden vaults. “In the event of a leak, these rots”, explains Wijgers why further intervention is necessary. About the stained-glass windows: “A lot of water has already been struck through the windows during storms.”
Some point of concern: the money may only be used when the Saint Stephan Foundation collects 30 percent or more than €1.6/£1.4/CA$2.5 million. “A luxury problem,” says Treasurer Fred van Efferen. ,,With the help of the municipality and the province, who are well disposed towards us, and perhaps loans, I expect that we will get there. We can not leave this opportunity untouched.” According to Wijgers, a plan for the roof restoration is not yet available, because the additional financing still has to be arranged. According to her, the million-euro subsidy certainly does not end the need to raise money. ,,The Saint Stephan Church is a large church, where new restorations must always be done.”