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Minutes of the Board of Trustees - November 2013

Minutes of the Board meeting held on Thursday 28 November 2013


Mark Getty (in the Chair)
Lance Batchelor (save for item 1)
Gautam Dalal (items 1-6, 9 and 13)
Professor Dexter Dalwood
Lady Heseltine
Sir Michael Hintze
Professor Anya Hurlbert
John Nelson (items 1-13) 
Hannah Rothschild
Charles Sebag-Montefiore
Monisha Shah
John Singer (items 1-6, 9 and 13)
Caroline Thomson (items 2-9 and 13)

In attendance

Dr Nicholas Penny - Director
Kate Howe - Secretary to the Board and Legal Counsel
Dr Susan Foister - Director of Public Engagement and Deputy Director (not for item 13)
Dr Ashok Roy - Director of Collections (not for item 13)
Chris Walker - Director of Finance and Operations, (not for item 13)
Larry Keith - Head of Conservation and Keeper (items 1, 8 and 10)
Letizia Treves - Head of Curatorial and Curator of Italian and Spanish Paintings 1600-1800 (items 1, 8 and 10)
Caroline Campbell - Curator of Italian Paintings before 1500 and Loans Curator (items 1 and 8)
Betsy Wieseman - Curator of Dutch Paintings (item 1)
Matthias Wivel - Curator of 16th Century Italian Paintings (item 1)
David Commins - Security Consultant (item 4) 
Marika Spring - Head of Science (item 10)
Miranda Stacey - Acting Exhibitions Department manager (item 11)

1. Pictures for treatment

The Board saw and approved the treatment proposed for 'The Dead Christ and the Virgin', Neapolitan follower of Giotto (NG3895), 'Portrait of the Archduke Albert', Studio of Peter Paul Rubens (NG3818) and 'Portrait of the Infanta Isabella', Studio of Peter Paul Rubens (NG3819).

2. Declarations of Interest

There were no declarations of interest.

3. Minutes of 3 October and matters arising

The Board approved the Minutes of 3 October and the Chairman was authorised to sign them as a true record of the meeting.  

Matters arising: the Director confirmed that the future exhibition programme was on track to make its target contribution to Gallery income.

4. Information has been excluded under s 36 FOI 2000

5. Minutes of Committees of the Board

The Board noted the minutes of the Audit and Finance Committee meetings on 31 October. The Chair of the Audit and Finance Committee said that it was not expected that the Gallery would end the year in surplus.

6. Finance Report

The Director of Finance and Operations presented the finance report. He highlighted  some budgeting issues which had arisen partly as a result of changes in staff and emphasised the need for improved budgeting which would be assisted by three year planning.

7. Director’s report, events and visitor numbers

The Director presented and expanded on his report.

He highlighted for the Board the desirability of exploring the possibility of further commercial exploitation of the Gallery’s event spaces. The Board approved the making of a grant application to the National Gallery Trust for funding of not more than £20,000 to fund further research into this possibility.

8. Loans out

The Board considered the loans out paper.  

Three pre-eminent Paintings were recommended for loan, all as part of the arrangements for a future exhibition to travel to other venues.

The Board approved all proposed loans from the Collection.

In response to a question raised by a member of the Board, there was a discussion about the issue of payment of loan fees, and the reasons why any move by the Gallery to charge loan fees would severely impact on its ability to borrow from other institutions.

9. Proposed acquisition (this item was taken before item 7)

Information has been excluded under s43 FOI 2000.

10. Collections Directorate

The Director of Collections presented his report on activity within the Collections Directorate, highlighting a few key areas of activity in relation to conservation and care of the collection, display of the collection, research, imaging, exhibitions and publications.

There was a discussion concerning the possible advantages to the Gallery of acquiring a 3D camera and hyperspectral imaging camera - and the potential for fundraising to finance such acquisitions.

11. Exhibition report, 'Vermeer and Music'

The acting Head of Exhibitions presented her report, which she pointed out was in a new format. She highlighted a change of policy which lay behind the decision to charge for this summer exhibition and drew attention to the income deficit which would have been incurred if this exhibition had been put on free of charge. The inclusion of live music in the exhibition area was an experimental step for the Gallery; it had proved very successful although there had been problems in accommodating all visitors who had wanted to enjoy the music. Some visitor feedback in relation to the music had been negative, partly because visitors had thought that they would be sitting in on a concert, with allocated seats etc.

The Board welcomed the new format of the exhibition report and the level of detail included within it.

In response to a question from the Board, it was confirmed that the intention would be to charge for future summer exhibitions, although probably at a lower level than for other exhibitions.   

12. Reports to the Board

a. Report on lighting seminar

The Chair of the Scientific Consultative Group reported on the recent lighting seminar attended by some members of the Board. She confirmed that one of the purposes of the seminar was to ensure that the Board were fully briefed on the reasons behind the decision taken to install LED lighting across the whole Gallery. It was noted that the seminar had thrown up questions for further consideration by the Executive and the Board; the Director said he would be interested in eliciting the public's views on lighting as part of future visitor surveys. There was a discussion of the possibility of securing funding or sponsorship to further improve the Gallery's carbon footprint in the area of lighting and other areas of energy consumption, while taking account of the special needs of the Collection.

b. Nominations committee report

The Board noted the report on proposed changes to the process for appointing new Trustees, as communicated verbally to the Gallery by DCMS officials. It was noted that no formal communication of changes to the process had yet been received by the Chairman from Ministers, and pending receipt of a formal communication, the Chairman had asked that the process of searching for a new Trustee to fill the existing vacancy on the Board should be put on hold.

c. Development committee report

The Chair of the Development Committee reported on a recently secured exhibition sponsorship and new corporate members.

13. Board effectiveness survey (this item was taken after item 6)

There was a discussion of responses to the Board effectiveness survey.

The Director said that he was in favour of on-going induction for Trustees, and in this connection the Board welcomed sessions such as those which had been run in relation to conservation and lighting.

The Board agreed that there should be closed session at the end of every board meeting at which no staff should be in attendance. 

It was also agreed that a formal Governance Sub-committee should be formed, which would meet (normally) twice a year, once in advance of the sending out of the Board effectiveness survey and once to consider responses and make recommendations to the Board. It was agreed that the Governance sub-committee should be chaired by Charles Sebag-Montefiore, and that Gautam Dalal, John Singer and Caroline Thomson would also sit on the committee.

14. Information has been excluded under s 42 FOI 2000

15. Space planning

The Director presented his paper on this matter. He reported on a recent meeting with Councillor Robert Davies in relation to planning issues. It was proposed to re-convene  the informal sub-group of the Board which had met in 2012 to discuss space planning issues, but as a first step the Chairman proposed that all Trustees should submit their views on the long term space needs of the Gallery; responses would be discussed at the Board meeting in January before the sub- group was convened.

16. Any other business

There being no other business, the meeting closed, and was followed by a closed session in the absence of staff.