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Minutes of the Board of Trustees - Thursday 15 July 2021

Minutes of the Board meeting held on Thursday 15 July 2021 at 2pm via Zoom


Sir John Kingman (Interim Chair)
John Booth
Catherine Goodman
Katrin Henkel
Rosemary Leith
David Marks
Tony Nelson (via Zoom video link)
Stuart Roden (via Zoom video link)
Professor Molly Stevens

In attendance

Charles Sebag-Montefiore - Ex-Trustee
John Singer - Ex-Trustee
Dr Gabriele Finaldi - Director
Chloe Brand - Acting Head of Development
Dr Caroline Campbell - Director of Collections and Research
Dr Susan Foister - Deputy Director
Paul Gray - Chief Operating Officer
Victoria Hayes - Secretary to the Board and Head of Governance
Andy Hibbert - Director of Finance
Chris Michaels - Director of Digital, Communications and Technology
Julie Molloy - Managing Director of National Gallery Company Limited (NGC)
Anh Nguyen - Director of Development (via Zoom video link)
Larry Keith - Head of Conservation and Keeper (for item 1)

The Interim Chair reported that a process for appointing a new Chair was underway, but not concluded, and that he would provide an update when he could.

1. Pictures for treatment

1.1. In the conservation studio, following cleaning and restoration, the Board saw 'Mystic Figure of Christ' probably by Antonio Cicognara (NG3069) and 'Portrait of Giovanni Battista Cattaneo' by Anthony van Dyck (NG2127). The Board approved the works as ready to go back on display.

1.2. The Board also saw 'An Estuary with Fishing Boats and Two Frigates' by Jan van Goyen (NG6423). The Board approved the treatment proposed for the painting.

1.3. The Board were shown 'The Sacrifice of Isaac' by Piazzetta (NG3163), 'Charles William Lambton' by Sir Thomas Lawrence (L1307) and 'The Holy Family' by Luca Signorelli (NG2488), all of which were undergoing treatment.

1.4. Information has been excluded under s.22, s.36 and s.43 FOI 2000.

2. Declarations of interest

2.1. None

3. Minutes of the meeting held on 20 and 23 May and matters arising

3.1. The Minutes were approved.

4. Loans out

4.1. The Director of Collections and Research presented the loans out paper, which was approved.

5. Director's report

5.1. The Director gave his presentation. He said that the remaining Covid restrictions were being lifted by the government on 19 July but that the Gallery would be maintaining its current social distancing measures and requirement to wear face coverings for members of staff while moving around the building. He said that timed ticketing would be maintained and reviewed on a regular basis, but that anyone who visited without making a prior booking would be welcomed and that messaging on the website had been amended accordingly.

5.2. The Director said that an announcement had been made the previous day that the Gallery’s selection panel had chosen Annabelle Selldorf from a shortlist of six architects to work on the NG200 capital projects. He said that the decision had been approved by the Masterplan Committee and endorsed by the Board.

6. Digital strategy

6.1. The Director of Digital, Communications and Technology gave a presentation. He explained that the paper outlined the strategy for the next couple of years and that much had changed since he presented his original strategy in 2017. He said that since March 2020, the Gallery had been largely virtual, with digital essential to all Gallery activity during closure. He said that the next step was to work on a coherent plan for all the strands of activity.

6.2-6.3. Information has been excluded under s.22 and s.36 FOI 2000.

6.4. The Interim Chair asked that further thought be given to the strategy to take into account comments made by some Trustees.

7. Annual Accounts, Report from the Audit Committee and Risk register

7.1. The Director of Finance said that the Accounts were due to be laid before parliament the following week. The Interim Chair said that the Finance Committee had approved the Accounts and that the Finance team had done an extraordinary job through the pandemic and despite all the uncertainty, had managed well.

7.2. The Board noted the report from the Audit Committee.

7.3. The Board noted the Risk register.

8. Verbal report from the Managing Director of NGC

8.1. The Managing Director of NGC said that since the Gallery had re-opened on 17 May income was slightly higher than budgeted and that the renewal rate of Memberships remained high.

8.2. She said that there was a small retail offer in the Sainsbury Wing, that the Getty shop was open and that there was a pop-up food and beverage offer in the Espresso Bar, operated by Kerb. She said that now the football fan zone for the Euros 2020 had gone, an outdoor café would be opening on Trafalgar Square.

8.3. She said that commercial events would be starting again with the easing of restrictions on 19 July.

8.4. On behalf of the Board, the Interim Chair thanked the Managing Director of NGC for keeping the company in good shape during an extremely tough year.

9. Management Accounts and Development Report

9.1. Information has been excluded under s.43 FOI 2000

9.2. The Acting Head of Development reported that the Art Fund and GLA were supporting the Inside Out festival.

10. Committees of the Board and others reporting since the last Board meeting

10.1. The Board noted the Minutes of the Masterplan Committee meetings of 15 April, 18 May and 24 June. The Chair of the Masterplan Committee said that Annabelle Selldorf was an excellent choice of architect. The Director said that the press reporting on her appointment had been extremely positive. The Interim Chair said that regular reports would be brought to the Board.

10.2. The Minutes of the Governance Committee meeting of 15 June were noted.

10.3. The Minutes of the Finance Committee meeting of 17 June were noted.

10.4. The Minutes of the Audit Committee meeting of 17 June were noted.

11. Any other business 

11.1. The Interim Chair said that he had not heard anything further about the appointment of the new Trustees, but that it was an excellent list of candidates.

11.2. The Interim Chair said that the terms of office of Charles Sebag-Montefiore and John Singer had come to an end in June, after 9 years of service to the Gallery and that they were attending this Board meeting so that he could thank them on behalf of the Board for all their hard work for the Gallery.

11.3. Charles Sebag-Montefiore and John Singer thanked the Interim Chair and the Board and praised the Director and the staff of the National Gallery for all they achieve.