Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales

Minutes of the meeting of the Board of Trustees held on 21 June 2007 in Gallery 20, National Museum Cardiff

PRESENT:

Paul E. Loveluck, President (in the Chair); Susan Davies, Vice President; G. Wyn Howells, Treasurer; Peter Morgan, Shadow Treasurer; Iolo ap Gwynn; Brian Willott; Colin Jones; Gareth Williams; Rhiannon Wyn Hughes; John Last; Huw Williams; Wynford Evans; Dafydd Bowen Lewis; Mike Houlihan, Director General; Eurwyn Wiliam, Deputy Director General; Mark Richards, Director of Strategic Development; John Williams-Davies, Director of Museum Operations; Mike Tooby, Director of Learning and Programmes; Jon Sheppard, Director of Finance and IT; Robin Gwyn, Director of Communications; Judith Ingram, Head of Policy and Planning and Tony Lloyd, Head of Administration.

APOLOGIES:

Apologies for absence from the meeting were received from Elisabeth Elias.

412 – CENTENARY PURCHASES:

Reported: That it had proved possible to purchase using the Centenary Fund, established with the Derek Williams Trust, only two of the Picasso pieces viewed by the Trustees because of valuation problems. As Picasso did not sell unique ceramics during his lifetime, there were few pieces available for purchase, however, the goal of acquiring a group of these wares remained desirable. The President had received communication from Mathew Prichard who was disappointed that only two of the group had been purchased as he had thought that it had been decided that it was the purchase of the entire group or none at all. Other Trustees felt there was a need to consider ceramic works by contemporary artists from Wales. There was also a need to inform Government that funding constraints didn’t allow sufficient purchases of such items and it was agreed that this should be placed on the agenda for the next meeting between the President and the Minister for Education, Culture, and the Welsh Language. It was agreed that subject to the views of the Derek Williams Trust, and advice from the Arts Panel, that the remaining funding be used to reinforce the ceramics collection as above. In the meantime the purchase of further Picasso ceramics would be investigated.

413 – GOVERNANCE:

i) Assembly Sponsorship Arrangements
Received: A report from the Director of Strategic Development.
Reported: That the Museum had received advice that new arrangements within the Welsh Assembly Government would lead to the sponsoring of the Museum being made via CyMAL, an Assembly Department based in Aberystwyth with the existing Sponsor Division being wound up. This announcement was made prior to the confirmation of ministerial portfolios and without consultation. It also raised a potential conflict of interest as the Vice President and the Director General were both members of the CyMAL Advisory Board. There was also now a conflict within the remit letter that required the Museum to work in partnership with CyMAL. It was noted that CyMAL was set up with an advisory role to the Minister, to channel grant aid and provide expert support to local museums. CyMAL had no expertise in core funding (which was never expected to be part of its remit) and its role of advising local museums did not fit with the role of advising a national museum. Its policy decision making could impinge on the Museum’s independence and there was a need for the Museum to ensure its arms length position. Worry was also expressed over CyMAL’s capacity, especially in terms of large pension funds and large budgets such as those operated by the Museum. It was felt there was an opportunity to change the emphasis on the relationship with the Sponsor Division and that in future it should be at a much higher level than at present.

Resolved: That the President would have a telephone conversation with the Minister for Education, Culture, and the Welsh Language and that we would use the process to get a formal definition of the arms length principle if possible.

ii) Appointments – The Minister had now approved the appointment process for the vacancies on the Board and advertisements would be placed week commencing 25 June, with interviews being held week commencing 10 September.

Mr Wynford Evans had informed the President that he wished to stand down as a Trustee at the end of this Board meeting and the President expressed his gratitude for his contribution to the Board and, on behalf of the Board, gave his very best wishes for the future for both Wynford and Mrs Evans.

The Board approved that Mr Gareth Williams replaces Mr Dafydd Bowen Lewis as Chairman of the Enterprises Company from 1 November.

The Board approved the appointment of Peter Morgan and Gareth Williams to the Board of the National Waterfront Museum Swansea Company Limited in place of Mathew Prichard and Wyn Howells.

414 – DATES OF MEETINGS:

Reported: That planned meeting dates for 2008 and 2009 were issued to the Board and it was noted that the training day in 2008 was being brought forward to 6 March.

At this point the meeting was opened to the public but no members of the public were in attendance

Ann John joined the meeting at this point

415 – VIRTUAL MUSEUM:

Reported: That the Trustees received a presentation from Graham Davies, the Virtual Museum Curator, and Chris Owen, the Web Manager and Virtual Museum Creative Developer. The presentation updated the Trustees on what had been achieved in preparing the Virtual Museum site and gave Trustees a flavour of the future. This was the biggest overhaul of the Museum’s web based information since it first appeared. It was prepared with user involvement and had been blended into a new framework which was a focus for collections and research. There would be a number of ways to attract people to the site, including book marks on other sites, and it was emphasised that this was only the beginning and was a first of three phases which would lead to an integrated collections data centre and knowledge repository. The Trustees were then shown examples of features already on the site and how they would stimulate audiences. Iolo ap Gwynn felt this was a big step forward as the Museum had gone to the core of the problem and had created a substantial system that was structured for change and could evolve. The Virtual Museum was planned to go live at the end of August/beginning of September. A new name for the site was debated against a background of many other suitable names having been taken up. It was agreed that the name ‘Rhagor: e-amgueddfa cymru/e-museum wales was concise and clear and would lend itself to marketing and PR opportunities.

Susan Davies left the meeting at this point.

416 – MINUTES:

Resolved: That the minutes of the Board meeting held on 15 March 2007 be approved.

417 – MATTERS ARISING:

i) It was noted that the painting by Rembrandt was now back in the UK and apparently no longer for sale. A new approach would be made by the Museum to have the painting on loan and again the Trustees highlighted the need for the Minister to be made aware of the constraints of funding on the Museum and its inability to purchase major works of this kind.

ii) Display of Art – The Steering Group (Assembly Government, Arts Council of Wales, National Library and National Museum Wales) had requested the Museum to lead on the procurement for consultancy which would be commissioned by the Museum on behalf of the Group. The Group had approved the tender documentation which had been issued with a closing date of mid July. An additional grant of £150,000 had been granted to oversee the process. The President felt there was a need to ensure the Museum’s public position.

iii) Pension Scheme

Declarations of Interest – Colin Jones, Chair of the Pension Trustees, Paul Loveluck and Eurwyn Wiliam as Trustees of the Pension Scheme and all other staff who were present

The current rate of contributions meant that the deficit would be cleared in twenty years which was underpinned by the Crown Guarantee. The Actuary had written to the Regulator and their case manager had responded that it was likely that the Regulator would look on the Museum’s case in a sympathetic light. At the meeting of the Pension Trustees on 18 June, the Museum’s contribution and the twenty year clearance of the deficit was agreed and would be submitted to the Regulator. The Chairman of the Pension Trustees Scheme expressed that the Trustees were content on that basis and also noted that following a competitive tender the Pension Trustees had appointed BBS as their new advisors in place of Mercers.

iv) Davies Sisters Tour
Reported: There would be 58 works on tour with 50-53 on view at each location. This would be a prestigious and strong show but still leaving sufficient works for display at National Museum Cardiff. The works of art would be away for approximately 18 months and the Corcoran Gallery in Washington DC had agreed to take the exhibition and the Albuquerque Museum had already agreed to come into the tour to complete the schedule. The exhibition itinerary would be:

- Columbia Museum of Art – 5 March - June 5
- Oklahoma City Museum of Art – 25 June – 17 September
- Everson Museum of Art – 1 October – 27 December
- Corcoran Gallery of Art – 23 January – 25 April
- Albuquerque Museum – 9 May – 1 August

A meeting had already been held with the international branch of the National Assembly of Wales who were excited at the prospect of this tour and the President agreed that he would inform the Minister.
Resolved: That a further report be presented to the Board in early autumn.

v) Dinorwig Quarry Hospital – At the last meeting the Board endorsed the incorporation of the Dinorwig Quarry Hospital into Amgueddfa Cymru as long as the operating costs were borne by Gwynedd and a management fee paid to the Museum. At a recent working party meeting Gwynedd had demonstrated a willingness to come to a financial understanding and this would now be discussed by Directorate. In the meantime, it was noted that Gwynedd’s HLF bid was not proceeding as quickly as planned but both curatorial teams were in dialogue. Trustees felt that the annual cost must have in-built increases to ensure funding in future years.

vi) Royal Visit – The Trustees received a report on the Royal Visit that took place on 5 June which highlighted the number of prestigious guests of the Assembly Government that were in the Museum. The formal laying on of hands for the First Minister had taken place at the Museum and it was believed that this was the first time this had been performed outside Buckingham Palace. The report also highlighted the visit by HRH The Prince of Wales to St Fagans and the President had received a response from the Prince expressing his pleasure at the visit and he commented on the use of traditional skills that he had seen on the day. The event would now be used as a foundation for developing relationships with those attending and with the Royal Family, especially Prince William as a future Prince of Wales. The Trustees expressed their gratitude to all those involved and requested that a briefing paper showing the developments over the last three years or so that would be helpful when developing relationships with Assembly members.

vii) Sutherland Gallery – Progress on the project had been rapid over the last few months, final designs had been approved, a local firm appointed as contractors and work had begun on the site in April. The Commissioning Curator had been progressing ideas for content and interpretation with the two organisations now meeting formally on a fortnightly basis to monitor progress. It was confirmed that the opening of the site would be well publicised.

viii) Zimbabwe National Mining Museum – Following the in principle support for signing of the Memorandum of Understanding by the Trustees, NMMZ has organized a workshop for the Museum project team in mid-July and Peter Walker, Keeper of Big Pit, would attend. As a Museum employee he would be covered for all work related activity and the Sponsor Division had been informed of the visit. In addition, commercial travel insurance was being obtained to cover additional items such as medical evacuation by air ambulance as recommended by the FCO. Subject to the security situation being acceptable at the time of departure, the visit would proceed.

418 – EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:

Received and Noted: A report from the Director General.
Reported: That the Director General highlighted to the Board some of the main points from his extensive report.

Work continued on the preparation of the statutory year-end accounts and the final version of the Museum Accounts would be distributed to Trustees in advance of the scheduled signing on 26 July.

No issues arose from the interim audit of the Museum’s Accounts, conducted by the Wales Audit Office (WAO), and the final audit had now commenced. The WAO’s additional insurance work this year focused on progress within the framework of the “Making the Connections” agenda and a workshop had been held by the WAO with the Museum’s Directorate on 15 May. At its last meeting the Audit Committee had received a number of internal audit reports with all resulting in positive assurance levels with no fundamental recommendations having been raised.

The Risk Management Group had discussed a number of items at its last meeting, including major breaches in security and terrorism threats.

At National Museum Cardiff the main contract was currently indicating a delay of up to seven weeks and the Museum was mitigating its claim position. Work on the Roman Garden at the National Roman Legion Museum had been delayed because of planning difficulties relating to the felling of three trees at the site, however, more positively, work had begun on the new learning annex at Big Pit, which would be completed by the end of August. In terms of learning and access, a series of community launches had been arranged in Oriel 1, which was quickly becoming a platform to engage with a number of new audiences.

The Archaeology and Social History External Advisory Panel had met with members of the archaeology, social history and learning departments and had discussed a number of emerging themes, including more interaction for the buildings at St Fagans. Work had commenced on the Domestic Collections Centre and the Atcost store at St Fagans with a contractor in place to fit out once the building was complete. Antony D’Offay was distributing his collection and the Director General had met with him with a view to part of the collection coming to Wales.

The final number of visits during 2006/7 had exceeded 1.5m. The Director General updated on partnerships and external liaison and highlighted the Wales leg of the twinning project with the Slate Valley Museum in Granville, which was marked by a PR event with the US delegation held at the National Slate Museum. A final list of celebrities to champion each of the sixteen objects for the National Treasures TV series had also been confirmed.

A task and finish Evaluation Review Group had been established and the Trustees requested regular reports from this Group. Plans for setting up executive group meetings that would replace Directorate meetings was outlined which would have a wider membership embracing a range of senior and middle managers who would be involved much more in decision making. The Board of Trustees requested that this be reported back to them early next year.

Following the closure of Gwalia Stores because of the insolvency of the operator, new operators had been found and should be in place by 1 July.
Resolved: Accordingly and the Trustees thanked the Director General for his comprehensive report. Members of Directorate would now use the Executive Summary to brief all staff at all sites.

419 – CONSULTATION AND OWNERSHIP ACTION PLAN:

Received: A draft Consultation Scheme and Ownership Action Plan from the Head of Policy and Planning.
Reported: That Creating a World-Class Museum of Learning and the further development of the Museum’s consultative mechanisms and processes was a logical step following the revision of the Royal Charter and the abolition of the Court last year. There was a need to devise and implement a cost effective consultation scheme that reflected the fact that the collections were held in trust on behalf of the public who were the ultimate owners and to encourage stakeholders to participate in a variety of consultative mechanisms. The consultation scheme and ownership plan sets out the values, principles and key participatory techniques which would enable the Museum to “put citizens at the centre”. The scheme would be referred to the Unions as part of the consultation process. The Trustees welcomed this scheme and felt that it should include reference to the Charter requirements. It should articulate how the Museum was consulting with local authorities and what mechanisms there were to take on the views of the Welsh Assembly Government and how it addressed geographical problems and opportunities.
Resolved: That a further report be submitted to the Trustees.

420 – COLLECTIONS AND RESEARCH ACTIVITIES:

Received and Noted: The Collections and Research Activities report January to March 2007 from the Deputy Director General.
Reported: That since the issue of this report two important new publications had appeared dealing solely or heavily with the Museum’s collections, namely “Llyn Cerrig Bach: A Study of the Copper Alloy Atrefacts” and “Welsh Furniture 1250–1950”.

421 – ACQUISITIONS AND DISPOSAL POLICY:

Received: A report from the Deputy Director General.
Reported: That the Museums, Libraries and Archives (MLA) was currently accrediting all museums in the UK. MLA were being insistent that a particular form be followed for the acquisitions and disposal policy and an amendment to the existing Policy, that was in line with MLA’s requirements, been agreed.
Resolved: That subject to final editorial changes, the Policy be approved.

422 – CENTENARY MASTER PROGRAMME:

Received and Noted: The updated 2007 Centenary Master Programme as at 12 June 2007.

423 – GOVERNANCE OF WALES ACT 2006:

Received: A copy of the letter from the Welsh Assembly Government’s Sponsor Division in relation to the implications of the Government of Wales Act 2006 on Assembly Government Sponsored Bodies together with a report from the Director of Strategic Development.
Reported: That the impact on Royal Charter bodies was that it was anticipated that the recently approved Charter may require further amendment and that the Assembly’s Constitutional Affairs and Legislation Management Unit were now considering the best way to achieve this.
Resolved: Accordingly.

424 – GOVERNANCE:

i) Assembly Sponsorship Arrangements
Reported: That the Museum had received advice that new arrangements within the Welsh Assembly Government would lead to the sponsoring of the Museum being made via CyMAL. The Minister had now approved the appointment process for the vacancies on the Board and advertisements would be placed week commencing 25 June, with interviews being held week commencing 10 September.

Mr Wynford Evans had informed the President that he wished to stand down as a Trustee at the end of this Board meeting and the President had expressed to him his gratitude for his contribution to the Board and expressed, on behalf of the Board, his very best wishes for the future for both Wynford and Mrs Evans.

The Board approved that Mr Gareth Williams would replace Mr Dafydd Bowen Lewis as Chairman of the Enterprises Company from 1 November.

The Board approved the appointment of Peter Morgan and Gareth Williams to the Board of the National Waterfront Museum Swansea Company Limited in place of Mathew Prichard and Wyn Howells.

425 – ENERGY MANAGEMENT:

Received: A report from the Director of Strategic Development.
Reported: That the Trustees were updated on the steps the Museum had taken to control the immediate and long-term issue of increases in energy costs while also preparing to accommodate changes in legislation and addressing the Museum’s responsibilities within the sustainability agenda. Cost control remained a key component of the budgeting process but due to increasing utility costs, the Museum would develop a more proactive approach to reducing energy consumption with its performance continuing to be monitored by its Sustainable Development Forum and Directorate. The Museum would take part in a national debate and would report back to the Trustees on the main themes of that debate and the issues that were emerging that applied to the Museum.
Resolved: Accordingly.

426 – DEACCESSIONING:

Resolved: That the following be deaccessed from the collections:

i) AEC Regent Mark 5 Double Deck Bus (Accession No. 84.331)
ii) Wave Machine (Accession No. 1994.190)

427 – COMMITTEE MATTERS:

Received and Noted; i) The draft Minutes of the Performance Review Committee meeting held on 17 May 2007 and ii) The draft Minutes of the Audit Committee meeting held on 17 May 2007 together with the Chairman’s Report. It was noted that (Minute 406) over £23,000 worth of stock write offs were approved consisting of old postcards, publications, posters etc and approval had now been granted by the Assembly for this write off. £20,000 of this stock had been transferred to the trading company by way of a loan and the Trustees agreed that the loan should be reduced accordingly. The Chairman also highlighted that the Annual Report from the internal auditors had confirmed that in all areas the Museum had adequate and effective risk management, control and governance procedures in place and this opinion may be used by the Accounting Office in his annual statement of internal control.

428 – ITEMS FOR FUTURE MEETINGS:

Received and Agreed: The Items for Future Meetings which would be updated to include reports agreed at today’s meeting.

429 – ANY OTHER BUSINESS:

i) Indemnity for Enterprises Company – The Government had indicated that an individual Board Member who acted honestly and in good faith would not have to meet out of their personal resources any personal liability which was incurred in the execution or purported execution of their board function save where the person had acted recklessly. The Sponsor Division had agreed that the Museum could issue such an indemnity to the non-executive (including staff) Directors of the Enterprises Company.
Resolved: That the Board approve the issuing of this indemnity.

430 – DATE OF NEXT MEETING:

Resolved: That the next meeting of the Board of Trustees be held on 20 September 2007 in the Collections Centre, Nantgarw. There would be a dinner on 19 September 2007 to mark the retirement of the outgoing Trustees to be held in the Court Room, National Museum Cardiff.

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