MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE BOARD OF THE GAIRLOCH & DISTRICT HERITAGE COMPANY LTD
14 Jan 2020
Present Roy Macintyre; Karen Buchanan; Pauline Butler; Stuart Caddell; Jeremy Fenton; Liz Forrest; Nevis Hulme; Irene Macintyre; Alice Mackenzie; Susan Maclean; Marcus Simpson; Allan Templeton.
Apologies Dugald Macpherson.
1. Conflicts of Interest
No potential conflict of interest was declared with respect to the Agenda.
2. Minutes of the Board meeting of 18 November & Matters Arising
The minutes were agreed to be a correct record, proposed by Allan and seconded by Stuart.
i) The 2020 AGM will be on 6 April. Adrian Cox, an archaeologist, has agreed to be the speaker, topic still to be finalised. Stuart will see if the High School Hall can be booked, otherwise Gairloch Hotel might be a possibility. The current directors who have completed their 3-year term of Board membership are Jeremy and Liz, Hugh having already resigned. They are eligible to be nominated for re-election.
ii) Karen has purchased a new computer for collections work, which is a great help. She has taken advice from Stuart and now has the back-up systems required and connectivity in the store.
iii) The Northern Lighthouse Trust has given a further £3000 towards the reinstallation costs of the Fresnel lens. Pauline will write to thank them for their generosity and support.
3. Treasurer’s Report
In Dugald’s absence, Roy reported that the final project invoices with (Simpson builders and Campbell & Co. have been settled. These were required before we could claim the last grant payment from HLF, which was submitted 10 January. We await final payments from a number of other funders, including LEADER and MGS, which we hope will not be long in coming. Roy is working on a cash flow projection for 2020, in discussion with Dugald. As well as for our operational use, this will be needed if we seek an extension of our loan provision from AHF.
(A summary report from Dugald was circulated to each Board member. Owing to a computer glitch, it did not arrive until after the meeting.)
4. Curator’s Report
Karen had circulated her Report covering: Building and grounds; Collection; Interpretation and displays; Education and training; Outreach; Funding; Miscellaneous.
i) We are being encouraged to apply for two prestigious awards: Art Fund Museum of the Year (our project having been cited in two very complimentary articles in the Museums Journal) and, with the support of Campbell & Co., our designers, for the Best Permanent Display category of the M&H Awards. Both submissions need to be completed before the end of January.
ii) Karen has today attended a meeting of the Wester Ross Biosphere Reserve with respect to the development of a Sustainable Destination Management Plan.
5. Working groups
Pauline’s intention to send a starter template to the chairpersons of each working group so that they can consider the scope of their remit and responsibilities was delayed by computer breakdown but is now underway. Any issues arising, and gaps in how we manage our operations, should be discussed at the next Board meeting.
6. New Museum project: updates and way forward
i) The list prepared by the architects as to the snagging issues which still need to be addressed was checked and added to by Roy and Karen last week. We hope these will be dealt with soon.
ii) Minutes of the Interpretation team meeting of 4 December have been circulated. It was clarified that one or two short films (eg recent FilmG Gaelic entries from the High School) might be available in the Film Theatre to supplement John English’s longer film about life in Gairloch parish since WWII. This is a matter for further discussion by the Interpretation team.
iii) Pauline will send the HLF Final Evaluation Report to Board members for their information. She has written and submitted six other end-of-project funders reports, each to different criteria. She noted that the final tally of recorded volunteer commitment (which is certainly an understatement of actual time given) equated to more than four years of full-time employment! Pauline was praised on the quality of the Report.
iv) We are now planning the external realm work. This includes: installation of the lighthouse foghorn, providing a seating area using concrete cores cut out from the AAOR; improving and interpreting the Archaeology Trail; transforming the seaward grassy slope into an amenity site (with steps and path access), with interpretation about the geology/landscape and the bardic tradition, including Gaelic; and general landscaping. Roy has worked out the materials, equipment and labour costs, David Campbell has provided a quotation for five interpretation panels and Kevin Ball, Head Gardener at Inverewe, is advising on the tree planting intended. The estimated cost is £59K. Pauline has just submitted a funding application to the SSE Sustainable Development Fund for 49% of this and has identified some other possible sources of smaller grants to make further applications. 2020 being Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters has opened up more opportunities for financial support.
8. Commercial and retail operations
The Report from the COG group meeting of 10 December has been circulated.
i) It is intended that work will start very soon on the café area; we await final quotations from Simpsons. We still aim for the café to be open by Easter. An expression of interest is being followed up.
ii) Stock-taking is complete. The retail group is considering proposals to amend EPOS to make ordering easier to manage in future.
iii) The draft Marketing Plan was endorsed. We must ensure that all efforts possible are made to promote the Museum across the media outlets available; a budget of £2000 was allocated. Promotional material and visit packages are available to offer to potential tour groups. Susan will continue to endeavour to get firm bookings, and we will exploit ‘ad hoc’ visits to try to gain future trade. Stuart will make some enquiries as to interest from some contacts he has.
iv) Although some days had been quiet, the pre-Christmas arrangements for opening, with pop-up shops and exhibition, had been worthwhile. Christmas at the Museum on 14 December, with more pop-up stalls, local choir and Santa, had proved very popular and brought in first-time visitors.
v) After discussion, it was agreed that we should open 3 days each week (Wednesday/Friday/Saturday) from 5 February and Tuesday through to Saturday in March, 11 am-4 pm each day. West Coast Arts have their anniversary exhibition on display and it would be good to have ‘events’ (store tours, story-telling, informal music suggested) on Saturdays to bring in local families. Susan will put together the information needed for our website, Facebook etc. so that people know well in advance. We need to ensure that information on our opening hours displayed by external social media is accurate. Liz offered a slot for Museum promotion on her 2LR Monday evening programme.
vi) It was agreed that we should progress the proposed appointment of an Events and Publicity Coordinator in line with our recruitment policy. The draft Job Profile was endorsed. Karen offered to prepare an advert for the next issue of GDT and website/Facebook. Pauline is willing to review applications against the criteria. We will then finalise interview arrangements.
vii) We will take advantage of the available second retail space to mount three very special exhibitions from external organisations through 2020. The opportunity to host the Bird Photographer of the Year 2019 exhibition, the first time it would ever have been held in Scotland, should not be missed and the Board agreed to pay the £2000 fee. We would hope to recoup some of the cost through retail sales. The two other exhibitions (Munros and Scotland from the Sky) are both free.
viii) It was agreed that the commission on art sales should be 35% + VAT and our policy will be amended accordingly.
Many of Jean McGregor Gardner’s paintings (final 2019 Exhibition) have sold and we are very appreciative of the family’s generosity in donating all proceeds to us and gifting us those paintings which remain. We are also very grateful to Fiona Macintyre for curating the exhibition.
9. Any Other Business
i) All general Museum policies are now due for the triennial review. Pauline has changed the presentation and vocabulary in light of our new branding and name. The Exhibitions Policy, as circulated for the meeting, should be seen as an exemplar. She has updated content where she knows what is needed but it is important that everyone contributes to the process. She will therefore be circulating the papers in good time for feedback and amendments to be made to present to the next Board meeting.
ii) Stuart provided an overview of the staffing and curriculum situation at Gairloch High School and the importance he attaches to its place in the community. Though promoting a rounded education for each individual was challenging, given the constraints, the head and he were determined to work closely with the Museum and encourage pupils to take advantage of opportunities we can offer such as for volunteering, Duke of Edinburgh and work placements. Karen offered to discuss with Stuart how GM might help to promote the study and enjoyment of history. The High School is also developing a collaborative and productive liaison with West Highland College.
iii) Mark Appleton has offered to design and print some boards to go above the shelves in the shop to tell the ‘stories of the makers’. We accepted his quotation for the cost of these. Potential new suppliers to the shop this season are Gordon & MacPhail and Johnstons, both of Elgin.
iv) It was agreed that Susan should attend a digital marketing training day.
v) In response to his query, Allan was given a number of potential performers for the Burns Day Pub Quiz. Karen will help with the contacts.
10. Date of next meeting
The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday 18 February 2020 at 4 pm.
There being no other business, the meeting ended at 6.15 pm.
CURATOR'S REPORT 14.01.20
Building and Grounds
I have ordered a mailbox for outside the front door. Fraser Mackenzie is looking into a suitable doorbell that does not require wiring.
We are liaising with Susan Maclean to make sure there is always a responsible person in the museum building. It might be useful to have a spare key on a large keyring that can be loaned out to students or teachers who are in for the day. Otherwise Susan and I spend a lot of time letting people in and out the doors.
The artefact store audit has been completed and basic documentation is now up to date for the part of our collection that is currently in there. I purchased a new computer for the store and Adlib is now running much faster. I can also access files from my office computer in the store thanks to Microsoft One Drive. I am looking into taking out an Office 365 subscription and have been speaking to Charity Digital about this. Once I have all the details, I intend to contact Stuart Caddell for advice.
The display areas in the museum will be audited over the next few weeks as part of the cleaning process. After that, we will be able to verify all objects are now in the new building, with the exception of the large objects that are still in the old museum building and which I am unable to move. I await instructions as to how this can be achieved/who would like to assist. It would be great to manage this before the visit season starts again. Rachael Thomas volunteered her help when I saw her last week.
The library needs to be audited and documentation updated on Adlib. There is also a need to appraise the library collection to remove duplicates. In particular, we have a lot of Gaelic bibles, some of which it would be advisable to dispose of.
There is still a massive accessions backlog in the archive and very little chance of this being resolved unless I am able to dedicate more time to collections work in the future.
Calum Rae has already appraised a collection of photographic slides for me and will now move on to another task on the photographic collection. Duncan Ross continues to document the archive collection and Adam French is volunteering, as part of his Duke of Edinburgh award, to help with the appraisal and cataloguing of the slide and photograph collections. Fran and Anne are in two days a week while we are closed to help with collections work and Dorothy Malone continues her research and genealogy work in the library and archive.
Interpretation and Displays
There was a meeting of the Interpretation Team on 4th December and I have circulated the minutes to the board. The electrician has been working on the additional track lighting but it has been a slow process due to missing parts. Elmwood attended in December to resolve snagging items in the display areas.
The interpretation team requests an annual budget be set aside for accessions and interpretation and display costs.
Education and Training
Before Christmas I attended an excellent training session run by ScARF on identifying prehistoric pottery.
I have one UHI class this semester which will run on a Monday from 11-12.
We have not had any school visits since the last board meeting.
Our HOM ipads have returned to base for updating, but Helen Mitchell reports great success using them at Strathburn.
NTS are waiting for me to get back to them to let them know which elements of the Inverewe Archive we would be most interested in borrowing or having digital copies of.
The Northern Lighthouse Trust awarded us a further £3000 towards the cost of moving our lighthouse lens.
I have now submitted claims and reports to Radcliffe Trust, AIM and MGS X 2. They have asked me to resubmit the claim for the Learning and Interpretation Officer post in a different format and I will do that as soon as I can find time.
We had a very positive review in the Museums Journal in December 2019. We were also mentioned by them as a possible contender for the Art Fund’s Museum of the Year 2020 award. I am working on an application to this, which is quite time consuming, requires the production of a short film in addition to the application form and needs to be submitted before I go on leave at the end of the month. However, to be shortlisted for the award would be a great achievement.
I have been asked to speak at a training event on community archives run by the Scottish Council on Archives and NLS in Glasgow. This is a result of the talk that Pauline gave in Birnam last year. They were impressed with our project.
Karen Buchanan (Curator)