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Minutes of the Board of Trustees – March 2011

Minutes of the Board meeting held on Thursday 24 March 2011


Mark Getty, Chairman
Lance Batchelor
Gautam Dalal
Dexter Dalwood
Professor David Ekserdjian
Lady Heseltine
Patricia Lankester
John Nelson
Lady Normanby
Hannah Rothschild
Caroline Thomson


Michael Hintze
Professor Anya Hurlbert

In attendance

Dr Nicholas Penny (Director)
Dr Susan Foister (Deputy Director)
Kate Howe (Secretary to the Board) 
David Jaffe (Senior Curator) Items 1–3
Larry Keith (Director of Conservation) items 1–3
Luke Syson (Curator of Italian Paintings before 1500) items1–3
Betsy Wieseman (Curator of Dutch Paintings) item 1
Cathy Putz (Exhibitions Curator) item 6
Dawn Herlihy (Head of Human Resources) item 8
Greg Perry (Director of Operations and Administration) items 8–12
Jane Ellis (Head of Finance) items 8–12

Prior to the formal business of the meeting, the Board met in the absence of the Chairman and all staff except for the Secretary to the Board to discuss issues arising from the impending expiry of the Chairman’s current term of office in August 2011.

The Chairman warmly welcomed Dexter Dalwood to his first Board meeting.

Pictures for treatment

1. The Board approved the treatment proposed for Dutch Men-of-war entering a Mediterranean Port by Ludolf Bakhuizen (NG1050).

The Board saw in the course of treatment Portrait of Frederick Rihel on Horseback by Rembrandt (NG6300) and The Adoration of the Kings  by Veronese (NG268).

Declarations of interest

2. Caroline Thomson as Chief Operating Officer of the BBC declared an interest in item 7 of the agenda and took no part in the discussion or the decision arising.

David Ekserdjian declared an interest in item 7 of the agenda, because he had done some minor consultancy work for the BBC in relation to the Your Paintings website. He took no part in the discussion or the decision arising.

Hannah Rothschild declared she had some involvement as a Trustee of the Rothschild Foundation in proposed arrangements in relation to Auckland Castle, reported to the Board for information as part of the Director’s report.

Gautam Dalal as a former partner in KPMG declared an interest in item 13 of the agenda, and took no part in discussion or the decision arising.

Loans out

3. The Board reconsidered the decision taken on 17 June 2010 to lend Christ on the Cross  by Delacroix (NG6433) in the light of absence of anti-seizure legislation in Spain and agreed not to lend the painting. The Board were told that the Gallery would be making further investigations into the provenance of this painting.

Information has been excluded under s36 FOI 2000.

The Board approved all other proposed loans from the Collection.

Minutes of 20 January and matters arising

4. The Board approved the minutes of 20th January and the Chairman was authorised to sign them as a true record of the meeting.

In relation to events in Trafalgar Square, the Director briefed the Board on precautions being taken in advance of the anticipated protests in central London on 26 March. He confirmed to the Board that those in charge of security on the day would have full authority to close entrances to the Gallery if required.

Director's report, events and visitor numbers 

5. The Board noted the Director’s report.

Information has been excluded under s 43 FOI 2000. 

Exhibition report, 'Venice: Canaletto and his Rivals'

6.The Board noted the report on 'Venice: Canaletto and his Rivals'. The Exhibitions Curator said that this exhibition had been expected to be popular with the public, but that it had exceeded expectations. She felt that this was in part because the show was not a mere retrospective, but a fresh take on some of the Gallery’s most popular works. It had also been very successful with the Gallery’s corporate members. The Board noted that attendance at the exhibition had not suffered as a result of other successful and popular exhibitions being shown in London at the same time, and it was agreed that the showing in the capital of more than one popular exhibition at the same time might prove an additional attraction for overseas visitors. Academically, the exhibition had advanced scholarly research and the catalogue had been positively received.

There was a discussion with the Board of exhibition pricing.

7. Information has been excluded under s 22 FOI 2000

Follow up to Comprehensive spending review

8. The Head of Human Resources presented her report to the Board and updated the Board on the number of staff who had, by the closing date, expressed an interest in being considered for Voluntary Exit. She confirmed next steps in the process to the Board.

The Director of Operations and Administration reported to the Board on the current situation in relation to Gallery Assistants. He confirmed that in this area reductions in staff numbers would be achieved through not filling posts which fell vacant, rather than through Voluntary Exit. 

Information has been excluded under s36 FOI 2000.

Corporate Plan

9. The Director of Operations and Administration presented the Corporate Plan to the Board. There was a discussion of the strategic framework and business plan.

The Chairman of the Audit and Finance Committee reported that the Finance committee had considered the Corporate Plan. He drew attention to the fact the forecast of income and expenditure for the 4 years commencing 2011–12 showed that in years 3 and 4 the Gallery’s income would be heavily squeezed by the impact of cuts to grant in aid; this highlighted the importance to the Gallery of increasing self-generated income.

The Board approved the Corporate Plan.

Possible arrangements with the NGT

10. The Chairman of the Audit and Finance Committees reported that the Finance Committee had considered this matter and recommended that pending the obtaining of further accounting advice, no action be taken in the current accounting period. The Board approved this recommendation.

Quarterly management report

11. The Board noted the quarterly management report to 31 December 2010.

Minutes of Finance and Audit Committees

12. The Board noted the Minutes of the Audit and Finance Committees dated 2 December 2010. The Chairman of the Audit and Finance Committees reported on a discussion at the meeting of the Audit Committee on 24 March concerning valuation in the Gallery’s accounts of heritage assets, and the impact of changes introduced in Financial Reporting Standard (“FRS”) 30.

He said that the current position was that the Gallery only valued in its accounts those limited number of paintings acquired since 2001, in order to comply with FRS 15 which became effective at that time. Potentially, the impact of FRS 30 would be to require the Gallery to put a value on all its paintings, although it appeared that if the cost of obtaining valuations would outweigh the benefits to the institution of doing so, the Gallery would not be obliged to do this. Additionally, the Audit Committee were giving further consideration to the implications of possibly adopting a non- capitalisation policy for heritage assets, which would involve the de-recognition of such assets already included in the balance sheet since 2011.

National Gallery arrangements with KPMG

13. Information has been excluded under s 42 FOI 2000.

Any other business

14. 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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