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Minutes of the Board of Trustees - Monday 11 May 2020

Minutes of a meeting via Zoom to update the Board on the effects to the Gallery of the Covid-19 pandemic, held on Monday 11 May 2020 at 2pm


Sir John Kingman (Interim Chair)
Catherine Goodman
Tony Hall (Chair Designate)
Katrin Henkel
Rosemary Leith
David Marks
Stuart Roden
Molly Stevens
John Singer


Dame Moya Greene
Douglas Gurr
Tonya Nelson
Charles Sebag-Montefiore

In attendance

Gabriele Finaldi (GF)
Paul Gray (PG)
Victoria Hayes (VH)
Andy Hibbert (AH)

1. Update on the effects to the Gallery of the Covid-19 pandemic and on preparations for re-opening

1.1. The Interim Chair thanked GF for the paper he had prepared, and which had been circulated to the Board. He said that the purpose of this meeting was for Trustees to receive an update in advance of the Board meeting the following week.

1.2. GF reported that the Permanent Secretary at DCMS had called a meeting of Chairs and Directors following the Prime Minister’s address to the nation the previous evening, which had taken place earlier in the day. He confirmed that 4 July was the date given for museums and galleries to re-open, but that there had been very little discussion. He said that a major main concern was the government’s proposed 14-day quarantine restrictions for incoming visitors which would have a major impact both on tourism and on members of staff escorting paintings in and out of the UK.

1.3. There was a discussion about the government’s proposed quarantine measures and a Trustee offered help with advice on a 3-hour test which was being developed and which she was involved with the testing of. She said that it might negate the need for quarantine.

1.4. The Interim Chair reported that he had attended a meeting of Chairs the previous week at which it was apparent that many institutions were reluctant to countenance an earlier opening owing to their financial situation. He congratulated the Gallery team for all the work done to date on the feasibility of re-opening.

1.5. GF said that among Directors of European galleries, the emphasis was to encourage local audiences to visit, as tourism was not likely to be possible for the foreseeable future. He said that the Executive Committee had been discussing how to offer special viewing times to essential workers and that the Exhibitions Team had been working on a tour of some paintings to hospitals and surgeries. The Chair Designate said that there were advantages to opening up as early as possible, provided guidelines were adhered to, particularly if NHS workers and others could be given special access to parts of the collection. He said it was important to open up the collection in a time of national crisis.

1.6. GF said that the Executive Committee were having a meeting on Wednesday to approve the detail of re-opening strategy and that a full report would come to the Board the following week. The Interim Chair asked that a paper be produced addressing the practicalities of opening in some detail.

1.7. Information has been excluded under s.36 and s.43 of the FOI 2000.

1.8. Information has been excluded under s.36 and s.43 of the FOI 2000.

1.9. Information has been excluded under s.36 and s.43 of the FOI 2000.

1.10. GF updated the Board on the Japan exhibition and said that at present the outcome was looking positive, with each of the three venues agreeing to open the exhibition later. He said that, if successful, all the income would fall into the critical 2020/2021 financial year. He said that agreements were being confirmed and dates would be forthcoming soon. In relation to the Titian exhibition, he said that the Exhibition Team were working to keep the exhibition in London until the autumn and were waiting for confirmation.

1.11. A Trustee asked how the Development Team were keeping in touch with supporters. GF said that they were in regular communication, that his picture of the week was proving very popular and that he had made a film in the Gallery the previous week which he hoped would be sent to benefactors that afternoon. He said that the Digital Team were coming up with many creative projects and that the Executive Committee were examining ways in which restricted opening times could be offered to benefactors and Members when the Gallery re-opened.

1.12. The Interim Chair said that he was impressed with how well the Gallery was managing through this very testing crisis.