A good discussion but fear not about the costs. I know times are tight, I face them as well, but what is on offer is and always will remain tremendous value. What we want to do is offer EVEN more, with EVEN more incredible value. Worry not. Instead allow yourself to be excited if you can.
Here is some context for the debate.........
At present the excavation fees covers less than 10% of the cost of the excavations. That's right, less than 10%.
Even with the massive hike in interest rates, from 15% to 20% (in January) I can promise that the Vindolanda Trust will absorb as much of this as possible without carrying through to the excavators. There will have to be a small increase, based on the VAT hike and inflation but almost all of this will be absorbed and not be passed down to excavators. A small part of the total cost will have to be carried through to maintain the level of what we offer at the moment, and actually improve it, for nothing.
However, if we were to offer courses and extras (and we sincerely hope that we can in the future, for the benefit of you all) there would have to be a small fee to cover them. We can't have it all for nothing, simply because at the end of the day someone has to pay for it, somehow. At present, most of it is not paid for by the excavators, we all owe a huge debt of gratitude to the visitors who come to Vindolanda, without them there would be no excavations at all.
So as you can see, the excavation is incredibly heavily subsidised by the rest of the Vindolanda Trusts operation (general public, cafe, shop), and in all honesty, I cannot ask the Director of the Trust to subsidise it any more than it already is. To be honest, I am grateful that the Director has not come to me as asked for the reverse, for the excavations to carry a more balanced fee based on real costs. The Trustees would be quite within their rights to do so.
Of course I don't like having to charge anything at all, and the Vindolanda Trust is extremely sensitive to peoples needs and its own core requirement of promoting access to archaeology. But we have to be sensible about all of these, leave emotion behind for a minute. You all know the philosophy of the place, it will not change when and if we get the chance to run extras for the excavators. In fact, you will be hard pressed to find anything comparable that is not completely state subsidized or something similar. Of that I can reassure you all.
The Vindolanda Trust looked at what was the main cost of excavating and decided to help as many as possible with the building of the study centre. As a result the new study centre will be on-line by the start of next season, and 10 lucky people a week can stay there, in real comfort. I can firmly state now that the deal that will be on offer with this building is an extremely generous one. Also, added to that, there will be 2 subsidised places per week. Effectively half priced. Full details of these offers and how to apply (who can apply) will be available at launch for the 1st of November.
I will also start a new thread on the wedig site in couple of weeks time with more details for next season as a prelude to how things are developing.
Also as an excavation aside - your memberships to the Friends of Vindolanda has been given a huge boost by what you will be able to see next year as well.
2 new museums with state of the art displays, writing tablets home.....
new site interpretation
A full 3D film to replace the Eagles Eye film at RAM
The Archaeo study centre
There will also be some special Vindolanda excavation volunteer improvements and benefits which are to be announced as well.
What an incredible offer you have already, if I don't say so myself :)