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Minutes of the Board of Trustees - February 2008

Meeting held Friday 8 February 2008


Peter Scott (Chairman)
Simon Burke
Professor David Ekserdjian
James Fenton
Professor Dame Julia Higgins
Lord Kerr
Patricia Lankester
John Lessore
Lady Normanby
Ranjit Sondhi


Mark Getty
Professor Mervyn King
Jon Snow

In attendance

Dr Nicholas Penny (Director)
Martin Wyld (Director of Conservation)
David Jaffé (Senior Curator) for items 8 and 9
Bruce Minty (Acting Director of Resources) for item 4
Christopher Yates (ex Director of Resources) for item 4
Dr Susan Foister (Director of Collections) for items 6 and 8
Christopher Riopelle (Curator of 19th Century paintings) for item 8
Kate Howe (Secretary to the Board)

The Chairman warmly welcomed the new Director to the meeting.

The Chairman confirmed to the Board that Lady Normanby had been re-appointed to the Board for a further four-year term of office.

The Chairman expressed the great sadness of the Board and the Gallery at the news of the death of Alastair Ross Goobey, the Chairman of the American Friends of the National Gallery and Chairman of the Board’s Trust Funds Committee.

Minutes of the last meeting and matters arising

1. The Board approved the minutes of the meeting held on 7 December 2007, subject to one amendment. They were later signed by the Chairman.

Matters arising: The Proposed three year Corporate Partnership had not yet been signed, as negotiations continued in relation to the list of banks from whom the Gallery would be precluded from accepting exhibition sponsorship for the duration of the Agreement.

Information has been excluded under s22, s 36 and s 43 FOI 2000.

In relation to the search for new Trustees, the Chairman reported to the Board that the Minister was recommending two names to the Prime Minister, to fill the existing vacancy on the Board and the further vacancy which would arise on 1 April. As far as the two vacancies arising in August and September were concerned, she wished to return to these later in the year, to give her department time to reflect on the implications for the governance of arts institutions of Sir Brian MacMaster’s report on Supporting Excellence in the Arts.

Director’s report

2. The Chairman asked the Director of Conservation to present the Director’s report, prepared by him in his capacity as Acting Director. The Director of Conservation reported on the outcome of the ballot by the PCS in response to the latest offer to settle the industrial dispute. He said that 81% of those voting had voted to accept the offer, and that the dispute was therefore now at an end.

One of the terms of the offer was to make all overtime for late night opening voluntary; after a period of time, when the level of take-up of overtime on late nights by existing staff was clearer, it might be necessary to recruit further zero hours staff to ensure that the whole Gallery could be open on late nights.

In response to a question from a Trustee, it was confirmed that the full report on the 'Renaissance Siena: Art for a City' exhibition would be considered at the March meeting of the Board.

CSR 2007

3. The Board agreed that a letter should be sent to the Secretary of State, expressing the Board’s gratitude for the very satisfactory CSR settlement arrived at for the next three years. Negotiations in relation to the next Funding Agreement were due to start shortly.

Appointment to Trust Funds Investment Committee

4. The Board approved the appointment of Sir James Sassoon as a member of the Trust Funds Investment Committee.

Appointment of Tate Liaison Trustee

5. The Board resolved to appoint Professor David Ekserdjian as a Trustee of Tate with effect from 1 April 2008.

Freedom of Information, annual report

6. The Board considered the annual report on FOI enquiries and approved the format of the report for future use. The Director of Collections, in her capacity as FOI champion, reported on the increase in the number of FOI requests made over the last year, particularly from the media. She confirmed that in the course of the last year, there were four requests for internal appeals, in all of which the Gallery’s original decision had been upheld by her on appeal, and three of which had then been referred by the appellant to the Information Commissioner. In response to a suggestion by a Trustee, it was agreed that consideration would be given to whether it was best practice for internal appeals to be handled by staff, or whether Board involvement was desirable.

Dates of 2008/9 Board meetings

7. The Board agreed that from October 2008, Board meetings should be held on Thursday afternoons, starting, for a trial period, at 3.30pm. The Board secretary would circulate a list of revised dates.

Picutures for treatment

8. The Board agreed that 'La Ferté' by RP Bonington (L1070) was ready to go on display following completion of treatment.

The Board approved the proposed treatment to 'Lord Heathfield' by Sir Joshua Reynolds (NG111) and asked to see the painting again in the course of treatment.

The Board were shown 'Marcia' by Domenico Beccafumi (NG 6369). The Director of Conservation confirmed that, following damage to the painting which had occurred while removing the painting from the wall, he had decided after consultation with the Chairman that repair work should start immediately, without the Board first seeing the painting, in order to avoid possible further damage. The restoration work was now complete, and the Board agreed that the painting was ready to go back on display. The Board thanked the Director of Conservation and his department for the work they had carried out on the painting.

The Director of Conservation reported that an audit report had been commissioned to investigate the causes of the accident which had led to the damage, and to recommend any changes of procedures or other changes which might be required to guard against future incidents of this type. The report would be considered by the Board’s Audit Committee in March and the Audit Committee would report to the April Board.

The Director confirmed that the damage had been reported to DCMS and would be reported to the MLA.

Loans out

9. The Board noted the report on loans out. Professor David Ekserdjian declared an interest in the requested loans of four paintings for the Correggio exhibition at the Galleria Borghese Rome which would subsequently move to Parma, as he was on the Committee for both of these exhibitions.

Picture movements

10. The Board noted the report on picture movements.

Any other Business

11. Information has been excluded under s43 FOI 2000 

Copies of previous Board minutes can be obtained from the Libraries and Archive department.

Confidential and sensitive information has been excluded from these published minutes in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Freedom of Information Act 2000

Read our Freedom of Information Policy