Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales

Minutes of the meeting of the Board of Trustees held on 20 September 2007 in the National Collections Centre, Nantgarw.

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; Elisabeth Elias; John Last; 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 and Tony Lloyd, Head of Administration.

APOLOGIES:

Apologies for absence from the meeting were received from Rhiannon Wyn Hughes and Huw Williams.

477 - CONDOLENCES:

The President on behalf of the Trustees and staff of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales expressed sincere condolences on the recent death of Jane Peirson Jones and the Meeting observed a minute’s silence as a mark of respect. Jane’s contributions to the Board of Trustees were always perceptive, incisive and constructive and her views were greatly respected by staff and fellow Trustees. She was a delightful colleague who will be missed greatly and remembered with fondness.

488 - GOVERNANCE:

  • Assembly Sponsorship Arrangements - Governance arrangements had now been clarified and officers within CyMAL had been allocated responsibilities for the Museum. The Director General would be meeting with officers from CyMAL shortly to discuss policy issues and there will be a briefing session for the whole of the CyMAL team in early October. John Howells is the senior Assembly civil servant with overall responsibility for Culture and it was envisaged that the Director General would meet with him on a regular basis. Advice was awaited on a potential conflict of interest over the Director General being a member of the CyMAL Advisory Board.
  • Appointments – There had been 16 applications from which 10 had been selected for interview. This reflected the strength of the applications and the President was confident that new Trustees would be appointed who would complement the existing Board. The appointments panel was being chaired by the President and on his request had been strengthened by the addition of Roger Thomas, a former Vice President of the Museum. The other members were Linda Tomos and Manjula Bray as the independent member. The final interviews would be held shortly and it was likely that an announcement would be made by the end of October but it was hoped that the appointment of the next Vice President would be announced sooner. The President thanked Linda Tomos for her work on the panel and her valuable assistance in the process generally.

489 – ANNUAL REPORT AND ACCOUNTS:

Received: The Financial Report and Accounts for Year Ending 31 March 2007.

Reported: That the Treasurer highlighted the key figures in the Accounts and brought to the attention of the Board the unqualified opinion by the Auditor General for Wales that the financial statements gave a true and fair view of the state of affairs of the Museum and that there were no issues of concern. The Treasurer commended the report to the Trustees. The full Annual Report of the Museum’s achievements and activities during 2005/2006 was currently in production and it was hoped it would be launched in the Senedd on 24 October 2007.

Resolved: That the Annual Accounts and report be accepted by the Board. The Treasurer thanked the Director General and all staff for their stewardship and in particular the Director of Finance and his team for their work and support throughout the year. The President thanked the Treasurer.

Brian Willott joined the meeting at this point

490 - ART PURCHASES:

Reported: That the Board discussed possible art purchases.

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

Linda Tomos and Ann John joined the meeting at this point

The President welcomed them both to the meeting and thanked Ann for her work with the Museum and wished her well for the future. Linda felt excited by the opportunities that working with the Museum presented and was looking forward to the challenges ahead.

491 - MINUTES:

Resolved: That the minutes of the Board meeting held on 21 June 2007 be approved.

492 - MATTERS ARISING:

  • Rhagor (Virtual Museum) – it was noted that Rhagor had received 30,000 hits in its first two weeks of being live. Iolo ap Gwynn commented that he felt the new site worked well and hoped that it would continue to grow and that in future it might be treated as a museum site in its own right.
  • The loan to the Museum of the painting by Rembrandt had been rejected but its loan was being pursued.
  • Governance – Governance arrangements had now been clarified and the President and Director General were meeting with the new Minister this afternoon. There would be a briefing for the CyMAL team in early October.
  • Assembly Briefing - The Museum’s Annual report would be launched in the Senedd in October to brief Assembly Members.
  • Sutherland Gallery – Construction works were well advanced and the service level agreement would be signed shortly. The Expression of Purpose had been agreed and the theme for the first annual programme had also been agreed. The new building was due to open mid summer 2008. Members commented that this was an opportunity to strengthen the Museum’s pan Wales remit and PR opportunities should be capitalised upon. It was stressed that local people must be given the chance to have a sense of ownership and that consideration be given to including the National Library in these plans.
  • Zimbabwe National Mining Museum – the Keeper, Big Pit had returned from a successful visit to Zimbabwe. His contribution was much appreciated by the hosts and significant changes had been made to the interpretive plan as a result of his input. The National Mining Museum was the first new national museum in Zimbabwe since independence and consequently it had a very high profile in the country. It was hoped that two of their curators would visit Big Pit in the near future and that further visits could be arranged.

493 - DAVIES SISTERS TOUR:

Received: A report from the Director of Learning & Programmes

Reported: That subject to final contract approval, Amgueddfa Cymru’s plans to tour an exhibition of about sixty works from the Davies Collection to five venues in the United States during 2009 and 2010. Unlike other loans and tours undertaken by the Museum, this exhibition would be organised through a ‘not for profit’ touring agency, the American Federation of Arts (AFA) which would provide expertise and support and also security provision.

The exhibition would be titled ‘From Turner to Cézanne: Masterpieces from the Davies Collection’ and would be accompanied by a substantial catalogue, written by Museum staff with essays by two US-based guest authors. The following were the agreed venues and dates:

  • 5 March – 7 June 2009: Columbia Museum of Art, Columbia, South Carolina
  • 25 June – 17 September 2009: Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Oklahoma
  • 1 October – 27 December 2009: Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, New York
  • 23 January – 25 April 2010: Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington DC
  • 9 May – 1 August 2010: Albuquerque Museum of Art, New Mexico

Following a question from the Board it was confirmed that the environment and security facilities would be checked by the UK National Security Adviser. The works would be covered by a combination of US Government Indemnity and commercial insurance at valuations supplied by Christie’s and a member of staff would travel with the works and be at each venue to oversee the setting up. The selection provided a strong display in the US, but also allowed a sufficient number of Impressionist works to be displayed in Cardiff to meet the expectations of visitors.

Resolved: Accordingly.

494 – 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.

The Management Accounts for the first four months of the financial year were attached to this report and there were no unexplained variances to budget to date. The statutory Accounts for NWMS Limited, NMGW Enterprises Limited and the Consolidated Museum accounts were all completed to target and all received a clean Audit Certificate. HM Revenue and Customs conducted a PAYE and NI compliance audit with no issues arising from their review of the Museum’s arrangements. At its last meeting the Audit Committee received reports on Capital Contracts, Marketing and Collections Management, together with a progress report on the Annual Audit Plan and an update on outstanding audit recommendations.

At the last meeting of the Risk Management Group, the Group discussed the greater reliance by the Museum on Commercial Income; the effects on the Museum of the recent flooding in the UK; the ever increasing reliance on ICT systems; the health risks of wireless networks and the use of web-based technology.

The work to the east wing galleries was nearing completion and planning for the phased re-opening of the East Wing Art galleries had continued with galleries 1-3 opening on 22 November 2007, with the remaining galleries due for completion by 1 June 2008. The Origins project continued to progress to schedule, with the opening date confirmed as 7 December 2007. The exhibition, Industry to Impressionism, opened in the Centre Block galleries on 14 July and received 12,791 visitors during the first twenty six days of opening, representing a conversion rate of 34% in relation to general visitors to the Museum.

Planning approval had now been received for the re-erection of the Haverfordwest Merchant’s House at St Fagans:National History Museum.

Progress had continued with plans for public engagement activity, around the development of ‘Rhagor’, the Gender Equality Policy, and focus groups for the Learning Department. These and other activities, such as plans for developing ‘Earthscape’ at National Museum Cardiff, and evaluation work at Oriel 1, have been supported by the Public Engagement and Consultation Forum and its members.

As a result of contacts with BEN (Black Environmental Network), the National Slate Museum and its Education Officer appeared in a booklet of occupations in the Heritage sector, produced by BEN and created for members of black and minority ethnic communities. The cumulative visitor figures (Apr-Aug) stood at 921,815 (against a target of 849,500); 72,315 (8.51%) above target and a 77,185 (9.01%) increase on last year.

The 'Evaluation Review Group', set up to develop and design an evaluation framework and action plan against which the Museum’s performance can be measured, celebrated and reflected upon, had met twice.

Meetings with the full time union officers in relation to Pay were ongoing and the new Head of Human Resources, Kaye Blanch had taken up her post on 20 August. Feedback from the ‘360 degree’ appraisals for senior staff has been completed with the exception of Directorate. This would be progressed by the new Head of Human Resources.

A Sustainable Procurement Policy and Action Plan had been produced.

The Staff Executive Group and the Collections & Knowledge Executive Group have met for the first time during September. These initial Executive Group meetings have been extremely positive and productive, with key outcomes sheets being made available to all staff via the intranet shortly after each meeting.

Two new members of staff have joined the Development Department. They will be developing programmes for fundraising from the corporate sector and from individuals and work continued on the Fundraising strategy.

Following a successful tendering exercise a new operator began trading within Gwalia Stores at St Fagans National History Museum in early July. Production of the Centenary Book has been successfully completed with the books being sold though the Museum’s shops and, via the Welsh Books Council, in shops across Wales.

It was likely that the format of this report would be changed before the next meeting of the Board and would include a section that was forward looking.

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.

495 - MARKETING STRATEGY:

Received: A report from the Director of Communications.

Reported: That the report summarised the Museum’s marketing approach over the last year and outlined the process taken in producing an annual strategy, the functions of the strategy, its various target audiences, and key challenges and opportunities to assist planning for next year’s marketing. The strategy now encompassed marketing of the Museum’s commercial arm, Enterprises and also schools marketing and the available budget had to effectively cater for those areas. The Board felt there was a need to always keep under review staff resources against agency costs and to ensure that success could be measured and effectiveness of marketing proved. There were a number of suggestions made on how the marketing effort could be assisted including the use of television broadcasts.

Resolved: That the strategy was agreed subject to the comments made at the meeting. It should evolve and that the next report should include priorities against budget and what evaluation tools were available and how they were being used. The Cultural Tourism Strategy of the Assembly should be used as a framework and the report should show how some of the weaknesses highlighted had been resolved.

496 - CENTENARY CONFERENCE

Received: A report from the Deputy Director General

Reported: That the overall theme for the year was ‘Identities’ and a major semi-permanent exhibition on the theme of ‘Belonging’ had been opened with another namely ‘Origins’ being opened in December. Building works and other constraints had meant the Centenary Lecture had been put back and would now be held on 6-7 December 2007, and coincide with the opening of the ‘Origins’ exhibition. The theme would be ‘National Museums and Small Nations’. The aim of the conference was to examine the contribution of museums to creating and maintaining national identities, and the role that they have played in the development of national consciousness and citizenship, particularly in small nations such as Wales. A marketing plan was being put together and marketing would be carried out in conjunction with other museums, conferences and agencies, using leaflets and e-marketing.

Resolved: Accordingly

497 - COLLECTIONS AND RESEARCH ACTIVITIES:

Received and Noted: The Collections and Research Activities report April to June 2007 from the Deputy Director General.

498 - FOREIGN LOANS:

Resolved: That the foreign loans as presented be agreed as recommended by the Arts Panel.

499 - DISPLAY OF ART:

Reported: That in order to progress the evaluation of options for the future display of Art in Wales, the Welsh Assembly Government had established a steering group to oversee the process of appointing consultants. The group consisted of members of the senior management teams from the Arts Council for Wales, National Library for Wales and Amgueddfa Cymru as well as senior officials within the Culture Division, one of who chairs the steering group.

Following a tender exercise, 3 Bona Fide tenders were received and subject to evaluation, interviews would be held in early October.

Resolved: Accordingly

500 - CONSULTATION AND OWNERSHIP ACTION PLAN:

Received: A draft Consultation Scheme and Ownership Action Plan from the Head of Policy and Planning.

Reported: That the Consultation Scheme and Ownership Action Plan for 2007/08 sets out the values, principles and key participatory techniques which would enable Amgueddfa Cymru to ‘put citizens at the centre’. A first draft version of the scheme was considered by the Board in June and the revisions requested had been incorporated. The Vice President expressed, in his absence, the concern of Huw Williams that this did not fully reflect the Charter requirements. It was agreed that there would be an extrapolation from the report that would form a resolution of the Board that could be adopted in line with the Charter.

Resolved: Accordingly and that in the meantime the Scheme and its ownership action plan could proceed.

501 - WELSH LANGUAGE MAINSTREAMING STRATEGY:

Received and Approved: The Welsh Language Mainstreaming Strategy 2007 – 2008.

502 - COMMITTEE MATTERS:

Received and Noted;

  • The draft minutes of the Trustees of the National Museum of Wales Pension Scheme meeting held on 18 June 2007.
  • The draft Minutes of the Performance Review Committee meeting held on 12 July 2007 and
  • The draft Minutes of the Audit Committee meeting held on 12 July 2007 together with the Chairman’s Report.

503 - ITEMS FOR FUTURE MEETINGS:

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

504 - ANY OTHER BUSINESS:

  • There had been three incidents recently where shoppers’ bags had been stolen from the restaurant area at NMC. The police had been informed.
  • Following the recent turbulence on the stock markets the Director of Finance confirmed that the Museum’s invested funds had not been unduly affected.
  • This was the last meeting of the Board before the Vice President, the Treasurer, the Immediate Past President and Dafydd Bowen Lewis retired, and the President thanked them warmly for their contribution to the work of the Museum.
  • Appointments – it was resolved that Wyn Howells be appointed to the Development Board and that Peter Morgan be formally appointed Treasurer from 1 November 2007.
  • Subsequent to the meeting, the Board approved the transfer of the 50 shares held in the Enterprises company by the Museum’s nominee, Dafydd Bowen Lewis to Gareth Williams when he takes over as Chair of the company on 1 November 2007. The Board also approved that in future the shares are held by the Chairman of the Company and the Director General.

505 - DATE OF NEXT MEETING:

Resolved: That the next meeting of the Board of Trustees be held on 13 December 2007 in the Court Room, NMC.

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