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Minutes of the Board of Trustees - April 2006

Minutes of the Board meeting held on Friday 7 April 2006

Minutes of the last meeting and matters arising

1. The Board approved the minutes of the last meeting held on 10 March 2006 with one amendment which has since been carried out. The minutes were then signed by the Chairman.

Matters arising:

Minute 1, acquisitions sub-group: The Director of Administration reported that a number of Trustees had agreed to join the group. A list of topics for discussion together with introductory material was being put together and would be circulated shortly.

Minute 2, Director’s report, staff matters, new Head of Development: the Director reported on the appointment of a head hunter and the timing of the advertisement.

Director’s report

2. Fundraising: the Director reported on the outstanding success of the 'Belle Epoque Gala' evening which had not only been highly enjoyed but had also been a most effective fund-raising event. The Chairman warmly thanked both Lady Normanby as the prime mover of the occasion and Mr Lessore for his generous donation to the auction. A great deal of gratitude was owed to all the artists who had so generously contributed in this way. The Board added their warm congratulations and suggested that it might be possible to repeat the event at sometime in the future.

Exhibitions: Trustees suggested that the reports on exhibitions should give more indication of the nature of the reviews particularly those which showed a strong reaction for or against.

Potential acquisitions

3. Gerard de Lairesse, 'The Expulsion of Heliodorus from the Temple'

The Board agreed not to pursue the acquisition of this picture.

Visitor numbers

4. The Director of Communications and Media made her presentation which gave possible explanations for the slow recovery of the Gallery’s visitor figures following the July bombings; analysed the ‘halo’ effect of popular exhibitions in also attracting visitors to the permanent collection and the reasons for this; and the desirability of improved temporary exhibition spaces.

During the discussion that followed Trustees made various suggestions including more research into the impact of changes to and events in the Square to enable the Gallery to respond to them more effectively; closer co-operation between London galleries with similar collections including cross-advertising of exhibitions, exhibition partnerships and co-ordinating late-night opening; making it easier for visitors from the Middle and Far East to come into the Gallery in large groups; and improvements to the Gallery’s portico and frontage.

Visitor research of the kind recommended had already been undertaken and the results would be reported to the Board. The Gallery also undertook to investigate: the possibility of accommodating larger tour groups perhaps in the first hour after opening; the opportunities for making the portico and frontage more welcoming; and using banners more effectively particularly to promote major temporary exhibitions.

Corporate Plan

5. The Board approved the Plan subject to a number of minor amendments which the Director of Resources undertook to carry out. Trustees noted cost increases beyond the Gallery’s control leading to a widening of the gap between grant-inaid and running costs.

Risk management statements

6. The Board approved the risk management statements.

Loan requests

7. Professor David Ekserdjian declared a possible conflict of interest and took no part in discussions or decisions under this item.

The Board agreed to all the loans recommended in the Senior Curator’s paper, noting that the loan of the Vermeer, 'A Young Woman seated at a Virginal', (NG 2568) was conditional on the venue being approved by the National Security Adviser, endorsed the recommendations to decline to lend, and noted the change of closing date for the Bernardo Daddi exhibition at Christ Church Picture Gallery in Oxford from 9 to 30 April (loan concerned: NG 6599) and to the change of dates of the Sebastiano del Piombo exhibition at the Palazzo Venezia, Rome and the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin, to February – August 2008 instead of October 2007 – June 2008 (Gallery loan: NG 24).

Exhibitions programme

8. The Board noted the exhibitions programme, which would be presented annually in future. The Chairman of the National Gallery Company emphasised the importance to NGC of the strength of the programme.

Minutes of Committees of the Board

9. The Board noted the minutes of the meetings of the Audit and Finance Committees held on 18 January 2006 and the meeting of the National Gallery Trust Funds Investment Committee held on 9 February 2006.

Picture movements

10. The Board noted the report on picture movements.

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