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Minutes of the Board of Trustees - Thursday 20 September 2018

Minutes of the Board meeting held on Thursday 20 September 2018


Hannah Rothschild (Chair)
Professor Dexter Dalwood
Dame Moya Greene (not for items 9–11)
Katrin Henkel
Rosemary Leith  
Sir John Kingman (not for items 13–16)
David Marks
John Nelson
Tonya Nelson  
Charles Sebag-Montefiore
John Singer
Professor Molly Stevens


Lance Batchelor

In attendance

Dr Gabriele Finaldi - Director
Dr Susan Foister - Director of Public Programmes and Partnerships (Deputy Director)
Paul Gray - Chief Operating Officer
Dr Caroline Campbell - Director of Collections and Research
Chris Michaels - Director of Digital
Andy Hibbert -  Interim Finance Director
Kate Howe - Secretary to the Board and Legal Counsel
Larry Keith - Head of Conservation and Keeper (for items 1 to 4)
Christopher Riopelle - The Neil Westreich Curator of Post 1800 Paintings (for item 1)
Letizia Treves - The James and Sarah Sassoon Curator of Later Italian, Spanish and French 17th-century Paintings for (for item 1)
Dr Francesca Whitlum-Cooper The Myojin-Nadar Associate Curator of Paintings 1600-1800
RoseMarie Loft - Head of Human Resources (for item 7)
Jane Knowles - Head of Exhibitions (for item 8)
Steve Vandyke - Head of Building and Facilities (for item 11)
Deborah Myers - Head of Development (for items 12 and 13)
Louise Peckett - Head of Finance (for item 12)

The Chair welcomed Tonya Nelson to her first meeting as a Trustee of the Board.

1. Pictures for treatment

1.1. The Board saw in the upper conservation studio Self Portrait as Saint Catherine of Alexandria by Artemisia Gentileschi (NG6671) in the course of treatment and were reminded of the online videos being posted in the course of treatment

1.2. The Board also saw The Triumph of Silenus, After Nicholas Poussin (NG42), which was proposed for treatment. The Head of Conservation and Keeper drew the Board’s attention to the aesthetic gains which were expected from proposed treatment and also drew attention to differences of view which existed in relation to attribution of this work, and said that the technical analysis which would take place to inform the treatment would also provide an opportunity to re-visit the question of attribution. The Board approved the treatment proposed for this work.

2. Declarations of interest

2.1. The Board were reminded that they would be considering for acquisition, under agenda item 5, works by six artists not currently represented in the Gallery’s collection and that any Trustee who owned or had an interest in any work by any of those artists should declare an interest. Katrin Henkel declared that she owned two works by one of the artists, and took no part in the discussion of the proposed acquisitions under item 5, or in the decision arising.

2.2. John Nelson declared an interest as Trustee elect of the National Gallery Trust of which he would become a Trustee in October 2018. 

3. Minutes of 12 July and matters arising

3.1. The Board approved the Minutes of 12 July and the Chair was authorised to sign them as a true record of the meeting.

3.2. The Chair reported on progress with outstanding actions.

4. Loans out

4.1. The Director of Collections and Research presented the Loans out paper. Information has been excluded under s36 FOI 2000.

4.2. She highlighted a risk assessment in relation to one proposed loan out, and dealt with questions from the Board.

4.3. The Board approved all proposed loans out.

5. Proposed acquisitions 

Information has been excluded under s22 FOI 2000

6. Director's report

6.1. The Director presented his written report.

6.2. He reported to the Board on the death on 18 September of Robert Venturi, whose design of the Sainsbury wing, carried out in partnership with his widow Denise Scott Brown, had recently been recognised as an outstanding example of post-modern architecture with the award of a Grade 1 listing. He told the Board that Denise Scott Brown had recently been awarded the 2018 Soane Medal for her contribution to architecture.

6.3. The Director reported to the Board on visitor numbers and said that figures for 2018 were looking strong and that the number of visitors to the Gallery in July was the highest number ever recorded for that month.

6.4. He updated the Board on progress with the Sainsbury Wing refurbishment and rehang, in the course of which he said that nearly every painting had been moved, and paid tribute to the huge amount of work done by the curators and art handlers, under the leadership of the Director of Collections and Research. He highlighted the new location for the Gallery’s paintings by Jan van Eyck where he said they benefitted from more and brighter space.

6.5. He reported on the recently opened exhibition Courtauld Impressionists: From Manet to Cézanne, which brought together Impressionist masterpieces from the Courtauld Gallery with works from the Gallery’s own collection and which focused on the generosity and vision of Samuel Courtauld; he also highlighted that a number of other masterpieces form the Courtauld Gallery were currently on display throughout the Gallery while the Courtauld Gallery was being refurbished.

6.6. He reported to the Board on the impending departure of the Gallery's Head of Education and thanked her for her commitment and contribution to the Gallery while in this position. He also reported to the Board on the impending departure of the Gallery's Associate-Curator (Renaissance Paintings) and thanked her for her important cross curricula work and work with contemporary artists carried out during her 17 years with the Gallery.

6.7. Information has been excluded under s 41 and s43 FOI 2000.

6.8. Information has been excluded under s36 and s43 FOI 2000.

6.9. Information has been excluded under s36, s41 and s43 FOI 2000.

7. Update on employment tribunal claim

7.1. The Head of Human Resources updated the Board in relation to this matter

7.2–7.6. Information has been excluded under s36, s43 FOI 2000.

8. Exhibition strategy and forward exhibition programme

8.1. The Head of Exhibitions presented the new exhibition strategy to the Board. She told the Board that, during the last year, some 1.3m visitors had enjoyed the Gallery’s exhibition programme, of which 1m had visited Trafalgar Square and the rest had seen works on tour. She said that the three strategic principles underlying the new strategy were engagement, reputation, and revenue. She outlined the new financial model.

8.2–8.8. Information has been excluded under s36 and s43 FOI 2000.

9. Public Programmes and Partnerships Directorate Report

9.1. The Director of Public Programmes and Partnerships presented a report on the work of the Public Programmes and Partnerships Directorate for 2017-18. The Board welcomed the presentation.

9.2. Information has been excluded under s36 FOI 2000.

10. Freedom of Information annual report

10.1. The Board noted the annual report on Freedom of Information, and the Chair expressed the Board’s appreciation for the work done by the Gallery’s Archivist in handling requests.

11. One Gallery Accommodation Hub

11.1. The Head of Building and Facilities presented a paper on the One Gallery Accommodation Hub. He outlined progress made since the Board had last been briefed, including the outcome of the tendering exercise. It was reported that the business plan was with DCMS for sign-off.

11.2–6. Information has been excluded under s 36 FOI 2000.

11.7. Subject to all these points and approval of the Business plan by DCMS, the Board approved investment in the project and the signing of a contract with the preferred contractor.

12. Forecast and Management report

12.1. The Interim Finance Director presented the Management Accounts and an update on the forecast out-turn for 2018–19. He reminded the Board that the Corporate Plan presented in the spring had been very ambitious; the Gallery had now carried out a complete re-forecast for the year 2018-19, which had resulted in reductions in projections of self-generated income, matched however by projected savings, so that the year- end outcome was still a projected break-even position. Contingency for the year stood now at £1.3m, although he highlighted two key risks not currently provided for. The Finance Team were now working on a reforecast for the next four years, which would be examined by the Finance Committee on 6 November.

12.2. The Chair of the Finance Committee welcomed the work carried out by the Finance Team and highlighted that the reforecasting for the next four years might have implications for the Gallery’s ambitions and could result in a Corporate Plan  being presented to the Board in spring 2019 which might look rather different to the last plan .

12.3. The Head of Development presented the development report, reporting that the Development office had now achieved 88 % of its target for the year, enabling her to say with confidence that the target for the year would be achieved.

13. Sponsorship and Donation Policy

13.1. The Head of Development presented the proposed new Sponsorship and Donation Policy, highlighting changes from the existing policy. The Board approved the new policy, subject to one change (requiring that all gifts or sponsorships of more than £100k should be referred to the Audit Committee regardless of the outcome of the initial risk assessment by the Development Office). The policy would be published on the Gallery’s website and reviewed again in 2021.

14. Committees of the Board

14.1. The Board approved the amended terms of reference for the Audit Committee and the Finance Committee.

14.2. The Board noted the Minutes of the Nominations Committee of 12 July.

14.3. The Board noted the Minutes of the Masterplan Committee of 6 August and the Chair of the Committee reported on discussions at the September meeting.

14.4. The Chair of the Development Committee reported on progress with corporate sponsorship

15. Update on claim in relation to Matisse, Portrait of Greta Moll

15.1. The Secretary to the Board and Legal counsel updated the Board in relation to the decision in the Gallery’s favour of the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

16. Any other business

16.1. The Chair said that this was the last Board meeting which would be attended by John Nelson; she reminded the Board that not only had he served the Gallery for two terms as a Trustee, during which time he had chaired the Gallery’s Development Committee, but prior to that, he had been a member of the Development Committee since 2002. She was delighted to say that once he stepped down as a Trustee, he would be joining the Board of the National Gallery Trust. She thanked him warmly for all he had done for the Gallery.

16.2. There being no other business, the Chair declared the meeting closed.