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Minutes of the Board of Trustees – January 2013

Minutes of the Board meeting held on Thursday 17 January 2013


Caroline Thomson (in the Chair)
Lance Batchelor
Gautam Dalal
Professor Dexter Dalwood
Professor David Ekserdjian
Michael Hintze
Professor Anya Hurlbert (not for item 1)
Patricia Lankester
John Nelson
Hannah Rothschild
Charles Sebag-Montefiore


Lady Heseltine
Mark Getty
John Singer

In attendance

Dr Nicholas Penny (Director) 
Dr Susan Foister (Director of Collections and Deputy Director) not for item 1
Kate Howe (Secretary to the Board)    
Busola Osibogun (Interim Head of HR) item 1
Andy Young (Interim Director of Operations and Administration) items 5 and 6
Larry Keith (Director of Conservation) items 10 and 11
Caroline Campbell (Curator of Italian Paintings before 1500 and Loans Curator) items 10 and 11
Jill Preston (Head of Communications) item 13

Update on management restructuring

1. The Director reminded the Board that following the finalisation of the changes to the Gallery’s senior management, a note had been sent to all staff at the beginning of the week, notifying them of the new structure. He confirmed to the Board that Dr Susan Foister had now been appointed to the role of Director of Public Engagement and Dr Ashok Roy to the role of Director of Collections. The former would also continue to act as Deputy Director. A search agency had been engaged to carry out a search for a new Director of Finance and Operations.

The Board were informed that interviews had been conducted with both Susan Foister and Ashok Roy before the new posts were offered to them, and that Caroline Thomson had been on the interview panel for both.

Information has been excluded under s 36 FOI Act 2000.

Declarations of Interest

2. Patricia Lankester and Professor Ekserdjian declared an interest, as Trustees of Tate, in agenda item 10. Professor Ekserdjian also reminded the Board that, as a Trustee of the Public Catalogue Foundation, he had an interest in a matter reported to the Board for information in the Director’s written report.

Minutes of 29 November and matters arising

3. The Board approved the Minutes of 29 November subject to minor amendments and the Chairman was authorised to sign them as a true record of the meeting.

Director's report, events and visitor numbers

4. The Board noted the Director’s written report.

The Director reported that, following discussions with Trade Unions, the outcome of the pay award for 2012–13 and 2013–14 was that staff on all pay bands would receive a pay increase of 1% in each of the two years.

The Director confirmed that the gift from the Estate of Sir Denis Mahon of Guercino’s Presentation of Jesus in the Temple (the acceptance of which the Board had approved at an earlier meeting) and the transfer from the Art Fund of 25 further paintings from the Estate of Sir Denis Mahon (the acceptance of which the Board had also approved at an earlier meeting) had now been effected and would be announced in late February or early March.

The Board congratulated Dr Ashok Roy on his appointment as a Trustee of the Wallace collection.

 Security review and response update

5. The Interim Director of Operations and Administration presented his report which he confirmed had also been seen by the Audit committee. He reminded the Board of the review carried out by an external security expert and the preliminary management response given in June 2012. He updated the Board on actions taken in response to recommendations in the report, including the creation of the new post of Technical Services manager. He expanded on other aspects of his written report.

Information has been excluded under s 22 FOI 2000.

It was noted that a further update would be provided to the Audit committee in March.

 Master planning the National Gallery estate

6. The Interim Director of Operations and Administration reported to the Board that the Gallery was initiating a Master planning programme, the first stages of which would assemble reference material which would be of use not merely in making immediate decisions about the Gallery’s estate, but would also be of use over decades to come. The current priorities, as identified by the Director, were to look at opportunities to create additional Gallery space within the existing Wilkins building, and to explore the options for creation of a more open-plan curatorial and research space within and around the existing library space. It was noted that currently the Interim Director of Operations and Administration would champion the project and that a staff Steering committee would focus on how staff and Trustees were to be engaged in this stage of the process. It was confirmed that there would be a report on progress and next steps to the Board in June.

Planning for budget 2013–14

7. The Interim Head of Finance gave a presentation which had also been made to the Finance committee earlier in the day. She confirmed that the additional cuts to resource grant in aid announced following the Chancellors Autumn statement in December 2012 would, when taken with cuts previously announced, result in resource grant in aid in 2013–14 being some £562k lower than in 2012–13. She highlighted for the Board the fact that some 60% of the Gallery’s revenue was absorbed in staff costs, and a further 20% was tied up in the running of the building. In view of the former, it was helpful that a two year pay deal had now been agreed for 2012–13 and 2013–14, since this created a degree of stability and would enable the Gallery’s management to focus on other issues in terms of costs management and generation of additional income.

She outlined some of the current initiatives being undertaken in relation to costs management, including in relation to tendering and exhibitions. She emphasised that an increasing gap between income and costs would emerge over time, and that, in the light of steps which had already been taken, there was a limit to how much additional cost cutting could be achieved, which would make it necessary to focus on additional income generation, including the possibility of a membership scheme which was to be examined by the Public Engagement Directorate. This in turn might require some upfront investment. There was a discussion about the importance of maximising donation box income and the impact of popular exhibitions on Gallery income. The possibility of seeking pro bono consultancy advice in relation to income generation was mooted.

There was a discussion by the Board of the extent to which the Gallery was able to benchmark its own income generation against those of other comparable institutions. One Board member suggested that such benchmarking should not be restricted to UK institutions only.

The Interim Head of Finance confirmed that the budget for 2013–14 would be brought to the Board for approval at their March meeting.

Report from Chair of Audit and Finance committees

8. The Chair of the Audit and Finance committees reported on meetings earlier in the day. He said that the Audit committee had, at their request, been given a comprehensive presentation in relation to the Gallery’s wide ranging IS needs and provision, including the levels of assurance in relation to disaster recovery . He also reported that the committee had received an update on the audit plan for the current financial year. 

Grant applications to the NGT

9. The Board approved the making of the proposed grant applications to the NGT.

Tate Britain and the National Gallery

10. Information has been excluded under s 22 and s 43 FOI Act 2000.

Loans out

11. The papers in relation to Loans out were presented by the Curator of Italian Paintings before 1500 and Loans Curator. The Board noted and welcomed the statistics showing trends in loans out. They considered and approved the revised Loans out policy. 

An addendum to the Loans Out paper was tabled and the Board considered all proposed loans from the collection.

It was noted that, as part of the Gallery’s national strategy, there was a proposal to tour a number of Gallery masterpieces within the UK in 2014; the details of the paintings to be lent to selected regional museums were included in the loans out paper for approval, and if the Board approved these loans in principle then applications from institutions who would like to participate in the tour would be sought. Those institutions would have to meet the Gallery’s security and environmental standards. The Board strongly welcomed the proposal for a national masterpieces tour and approved in principle the loans of paintings to be made as part of that tour.

The Board approved all other proposed loans from the collection.  

Reports to the Board


  • The Chair of the Gallery’s scientific consultative group drew attention to the minutes of the annual meeting of that group in November and to the abstracts of five presentations made at that meeting, which she said had been of a very high standard. She drew attention to the fact that one of the talks had focussed on the use of the Gallery’s new state of the art Bruker ATR-FTIR (attenuated total reflection – Fourier transform infrared) imaging system, acquired in August 2011 with a generous grant from the Foyle Foundation.
  • The Chair of the Development committee reported on recent corporate sponsorship secured.
    Information has been excluded under S43 FOI Act 2000.
  • The report from the Nominations committee was deferred, in the absence of the Chair of that committee.

Presentation on Audience segmentation research

13. The Head of Communications gave a presentation to the Board summarising results of   research which the Gallery commissioned in relation to its audience segmentation. She said that because this research had only been commissioned since 2010 it was too early to be able to provide trend data, but that the research did enable the Gallery to benchmark itself against other comparable UK institutions.

She highlighted for the Board the breakdown of the Gallery’s visitors in terms of a number of key factors including gender, age, ethnicity, occupation and nationality. She explained that the research also categorised visitors according to whether they were first time or repeat visitors, whether they were visiting as part of a family group, what level of knowledge they professed to have about art, what motivated them to come to the Gallery and also their levels of satisfaction following their visit.

Information has been excluded under s43 FOI Act 2000.

The Board welcomed the research which they noted should be used to improve the experience of visitors to the Gallery. The Head of Communications would at a future date report on separate and more detailed research which had been commissioned in relation to the visitor experience.

Freedom of Information Annual report

14. The Board noted the annual Freedom of Information report. It was noted that one matter had been appealed to the Information commissioner in the year, and that a decision from the Commissioner was awaited.

Any Other business

15. There being no other business, the Chair declared the meeting closed.

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.

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