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Minutes of the Board of Trustees – July 2011

Minutes of the Board meeting held on Thursday 14 July 2011


Mark Getty, Chairman
Lance Batchelor
Dexter Dalwood
Professor David Ekserdjian
Michael Hintze
Professor Anya Hurlbert
Patricia Lankester
John Nelson
Lady Normanby
Hannah Rothschild
Caroline Thomson


Gautam Dalal
Lady Heseltine

In attendance

Dr Nicholas Penny (Director)
Dr Susan Foister (Deputy Director) not for item 10
Kate Howe (Secretary to the Board)     
David Jaffe (Senior Curator) items 1–3
Larry Keith (Director of Conservation) items 1–3
Dawson Carr (Curator of Italian and Spanish 1600-1800) item 1
Jill Dunkerton (Conservator) item 1
Cathy Putz (Exhibitions Curator) items 9 and 10
Sarah Ward (Director of Public Affairs and Development) item 9

Pictures for treatment

1. The Board saw and approved the treatment proposed for The Adoration of the Shepherds by Giovanni Battista Spinelli (NG1157) and The Conversion of St Paul, Ferrarese (NG73). The Director said that both paintings generally hung in Gallery A, but both, following cleaning, would from time to time be displayed on the main floor.

There was a discussion with the Board about how the Gallery prioritised pictures for treatment and it was agreed that the question of the future programme of work for the Conservation Department should be brought back to the Board.

The Board also saw for information only prior to treatment 'Hercules and Deianira' by Jan Gossaert (X6583) on loan from the Barber Institute

Declarations of interest

2. David Ekserdjian declared, in relation to the 'Salvator Mundi' which was to be included in the Gallery’s forthcoming Leonardo exhibition, that he was contributing to a book being published by Yale University Press in relation to this painting.

He also declared an interest as the Curator of a forthcoming exhibition of bronzes at the Royal Academy and said that he could not at this stage confirm from what other institutions he might be requesting loans.

Loans out

3. The Director drew to the attention of the Board the fact that the requested loan of 'Venus and Adonis' by Workshop of Titian (NG34) referred to in the loan paper could not be agreed due to the fact that it conflicted with a previously agreed loan of the same painting. The Board approved all other proposed loans from the Collection.

Minutes of 12 May and matters arising

4. The Minutes were approved subject to verification of a date referred to in item 8. The Chairman was authorised to sign them as a true record of the meeting.

Director’s report, events and visitor numbers

5. The Board noted the Director’s report.

There was a discussion about major events in Trafalgar Square and the impact which such events had on visitors to the Gallery. It was agreed that a paper and action proposals in this area should be brought to the Board. The Chairman requested that such a paper should include consideration of problems of access for visitors, potential security or fire risks and financial implications. The importance of working closely with Westminster Council and the Mayor’s Office was noted.

The Board asked to be reminded of the Gallery’s policy on display of loan paintings which were or had been for sale. The Deputy Director confirmed that the Gallery would not display on long term loan any painting which was known to be for sale. In relation to exhibition loans, the Gallery would weigh up the advantage to the exhibition in including it: the benefit to the public in seeing the work and its contribution to the argument and scholarship of the exhibition as a whole. The work would be included solely on its own merits. The argument for the inclusion of such a work would usually be presented in the exhibition catalogue.

The Director reported on impending staff changes at the Gallery, including the appointment of Jill Preston, formerly Director of Communications and Commercial Activities at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, as new Head of Communications. She would take up her post in early August. He also reported on staffing changes in the Curatorial Department and said that he would be asking the Deputy Director to report to the Board in the autumn on the structure of and plans for the Curatorial Department, including research.

The Director reported on a very successful study day in relation to the current Sainsbury Wing exhibition, Devotion by Design: Italian Altarpieces Before 1500. He commended the work of the two Curators, Scott Nethersole and Jennifer Sliwka, in relation to both the exhibition and the study day.

Exhibition programme

6. The Exhibitions Curator presented the proposed exhibition programme to 2016 to the Board.  She confirmed that the Gallery’s current exhibition strategy was to combine tight financial management with a very varied and intellectually rigorous programme (including some monographic and other non- monographic shows), and to chose where appropriate suitable partners and collaborators. 

The Board welcomed the programme.

There was a discussion with the Board about the scheduled  2012 collaboration with the Royal Opera House, and in particular the proposed exhibition of works by three contemporary artists of some of the preparatory work which would lead to the production of their completed set designs for the newly commissioned ballets to be performed at Covent Garden. The Director noted that this was a complex collaboration and it was agreed that the proposal would be brought back to the Board in early 2012.

In relation to the financial aspects of the programme, the Director confirmed that from 2014–15 it was expected that the programme would deliver an annual contribution to the finances of the Gallery at the level which had previously been identified as an objective. 

The Chair of the Development Committee said that the fact that the proposed programme of exhibitions was available to 2016 would make the securing of sponsorship much easier. He suggested in future the financial information should be presented in such a way that the return for each exhibition was first shown net of sponsorship, and then after taking account of sponsorship. It was noted that the only sponsorship currently shown in the figures presented to the Board was that which was certain but that ultimately many of the other exhibitions would attract sponsorship. The question was raised of whether the views of potential sponsors had any impact on whether proposed exhibitions were taken forward; it was confirmed that this was not the case.

The question was raised of whether the objective should in future be for every exhibition to break even, but it was agreed that it might be difficult to set such an objective for the free summer exhibitions. In relation to the financial return of past Sunley Room exhibitions, the Chairman asked what lessons could be learnt from these figures. It was noted that the strategy for Sunley Room shows had changed, and the more costly shows which had historically been put on, involving foreign loans, would not be mounted in the future.

Exhibition report, 'Jan Gossaert’s Renaissance'

7. The Board noted the report on the 'Jan Gossaert’s Renaissance' exhibition. A question was raised by the Board in connection with the setting of exhibition ticket prices including concessions; it was confirmed that these matters were kept under constant review by the Gallery’s Income Committee.

Follow up to Board strategy weekend

8. Discussion of this item was held over to the September Board meeting. 

Proposed Acquisition

9. Information has been excluded under s 43 FOI 2000

Board effectiveness survey

10. There was a discussion of the results of the Board effectiveness survey.

The Director noted the proposal that there might be an annual plan of work for the Board and it was agreed this should be implemented. The Board requested that they should have advance notice of proposed issues to be discussed at the annual strategy weekend, so that they could have some part in shaping the agenda for that weekend.

It was proposed by the Chair of the Audit and finance committee that induction for new trustees should include some element of re-assurance on areas and levels of risk in the Gallery.

Quarterly management report

11. The Board noted the quarterly management reports to 31 March 2011.

Proposed leasing arrangements over East wing to NPG

12. The Board authorised the Director to negotiate and agree terms with the National Portrait Gallery subject to approval by the Secretary of State.

Minutes of and report from the Nominations Committee

13. Discussion was held over to the September Board meeting.

Any other business

13. There being no other business the Chairman declared the meeting closed.

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.

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