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Minutes of the Board of Trustees - September 2014

Minutes of the Board meeting held on Thursday 25 September 2014


Mark Getty (in the Chair) 
Lance Batchelor
Gautam Dalal
Professor Dexter Dalwood
Lady Heseltine 
Sir Michael Hintze
John Nelson
Hannah Rothschild
Charles Sebag-Montefiore
Monisha Shah
John Singer
Caroline Thomson


Professor Anya Hurlbert
Lord King of Lothbury

In attendance

Dr Nicholas Penny - Director (not for item 12b)
Kate Howe - Secretary to the Board and Legal Counsel
Dr Susan Foister - Director of Public Engagement and Deputy Director (not for part of item 4 and not for items 12-14)
Dr Ashok Roy - Director of Collections (not for part of item 4 and not for items 12-14)
Chris Walker - Director of Finance and Operations (not for part of item 4 and not for items 12- 14)
Larry Keith - Head of Conservation and Keeper (items 1, 5 and 6)
Caroline Campbell - Curator of Italian Paintings before 1500 and Interim Head of Curatorial (items 1, 5 and 6)
Betsy Wieseman - Curator of Dutch and Flemish Paintings (item 1)
Humphrey Wine - Curator of French 17th Century and 18th Century Paintings (item 1)
Jane Knowles - Head of Exhibitions (item 8)
RoseMarie Loft - Head of Human Resources (item 9)
Louise Peckett - Head of Finance (items 10 and 11)

Prior to the formal part of the meeting, the Board had a confidential discussion in the absence of staff to discuss the process of selection of the next Director.

1. Pictures for treatment

The Board saw and approved the treatment proposed for Peasants with Cattle fording a Stream by Adriaen van de Velde (NG868) and A Knight of Saint John, Attributed to Polidoro da Carravaggio (NG932). The Head of Conservation highlighted for the Board the fact that the Van de Velde had been acquired in 1871 and this was the first time that it would have been cleaned since acquisition.

The Board were told that they would see NG812 again several times during the course of treatment.

Information has been excluded under s 22 and s43 FOI 2000.

2. Declarations of interest

Dexter Dalwood declared in connection with proposed Loans out, item 5, that he was assisting Tate with an exhibition they were putting on in 2015 for which a loan had been requested from the Gallery.

3. Minutes of 17 July and matters arising

The Board approved the Minutes of 17 July and the Chairman was authorised to sign them as a true record of the meeting. 

In relation to matters arising:-

  1. The Director confirmed to the Board that Caroline Campbell had stepped very successfully into the role of Head of Curatorial, on an interim basis.
  1. In relation to lobby reconfiguration, it was confirmed to the Board that this would not take place until after the closure of the Rembrandt exhibition.

Information has been excluded under s 43 FOI 2000.

4. Director's report, events and visitor numbers

The Director presented and expanded on his written report.

He reported to the Board on the initial response from the press and public to the launch of the Gallery’s Membership scheme.

He reported that Tate were proposing to transfer to the National Portrait Gallery a painting which had  previously been transferred to Tate by the National Gallery, being John Hoppner’s 'Mrs Jordan as Hypolita in ‘She Would and She Would Not’'. He reminded the Board of the statutory power which the National Gallery and Tate had to transfer works to other national museums and galleries and explained that such transfers could not be described or regarded as de-accessioning. He recommended that the Gallery should keep a full record of where all paintings originally given to the Gallery now resided.

Information has been excluded under s 43 FOI 2000.

5. Loans out

The Board approved the proposed loans from the Collection.

6. Possible acquisitions

The Director updated the Board on progress in relation to the applications for funding in connection with the proposed acquisition of The Four Times of Day by Corot. He hoped that the Art Fund would agree to make a grant in support of this important acquisition, and that a decision would be forthcoming at their meeting in early October. The Board approved the acquisition of this painting for the special net price of £3.325m and authorised the Director to approve and execute on behalf of the Board:-

a. A grant agreement with the Art Fund, in connection with the grant (if any) offered by the Art Fund in support of the acquisition,
b. The contract to acquire the painting and
c. Such other documents as might be required to give effect to the purchase.

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

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

8. Update on forward exhibition programme

The Head of Exhibitions presented the proposed forward exhibition programme to 2017, including a summary of the projected financial contribution which individual exhibitions and overall programme would make to the Gallery’s income. In terms of the presentation of the financial information, it was agreed that in future, the paper would make clear where exhibition sponsorship had been committed, and where it was merely projected.

Information has been excluded under s 43 FOI 2000.

9. Employee engagement strategy

The Head of Human Resources presented her paper on employee engagement and a people strategy for the National Gallery. She outlined some of the current issues facing the Gallery, in terms of recruitment and retention of staff, sickness and turnover levels. She said that the driver behind the new strategy was a desire to create an engaged workforce, and that this would involve a 2-3 year programme, which would focus on a range of key issues, including leadership development; internal communication; pay and reward proposals; probation and induction; flexible working; additional staff benefits and performance and reporting. Work had already begun in a number of these areas including leadership development. She confirmed that the overall strategy now needed to be reworked into a prioritised plan which would focus initially on a revised pay grading system and related pay issues.

The Chairman congratulated the Head of Human Resources on her excellent presentation and the work and analysis which had gone into it; the Board welcomed and endorsed the strategy.

10. Management accounts as at 31 August 2014

The Head of Finance presented the management accounts to 31 August, which the Board noted.

11. Grant applications to the AFNGL

The Board approved the proposed grant applications to the American Friends of the National Gallery.

12. Committees of the Board

a. Report from the Nominations Committee Chair

The Chairman said he was delighted to confirm to the Board that the Prime Minister had appointed Lord King of Lothbury to serve as a Trustee of the Gallery for a term of 5 years from 22 September.

There was a discussion of the proposed timing for selection of the next Chair.

b. Report from the Remuneration Committee Chair

The Chairman reported that the Remuneration Committee had met with the Director earlier in the day to receive his formal report on the performance reviews of senior staff with which the Committee were satisfied.

13. Board effectiveness survey

The Chairman of the Governance Committee presented the recommendations of the Committee arising out of responses to the Board effectiveness survey. The Board endorsed all the recommendations made and agreed that it would be preferable to defer the drawing up of the next 3 year strategic plan for the Gallery until the next Director was in post.

14. Any othe business

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