MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE BOARD OF THE GAIRLOCH & DISTRICT HERITAGE COMPANY LTD
Roy Macintyre; Karen Buchanan; Pauline Butler; Jeremy Fenton; Liz Forrest; Nevis Hulme; Irene Macintyre; Alice Mackenzie; Dugald Macpherson; Marcus Simpson; Allan Templeton; Katie Pilcher; Lorna Cruickshank.
Roy informed the meeting that he had received a letter of resignation from Hugh. On behalf of us all, Roy will respond to express our thanks and appreciation of all that he has done whilst a Board member, in particular, his sterling contribution in giving of his professional expertise to the conversion of the AAOR.
1. Conflicts of Interest
No potential conflict of interest was declared with respect to the Agenda.
2. Minutes of the Board meeting of 17 June & Matters Arising
The minutes were agreed to be a correct record, proposed by Allan and seconded by Jeremy.
i) As soon as we have a statement from Simpsons of the costs for installation of the Fresnel lens, Karen will approach the Northern Lighthouse Heritage Trust to request further financial support for its relocation.
ii) The lack of the expected copies of operational manuals for various aspects of the new building is of concern, exemplified by an incident today when we did not know how to free the jammed lift. Simpsons will be asked again to provide the necessary.
iii) There has been an excellent response to the recent request to renew memberships, and many more local people have joined now we are open. Irene raised the issue of there not being an up-to-date list at the desk to check the claims of those who cannot produce their membership cards, particularly when Karen is not available to confirm whether their membership is valid (only possible if the necessary form has been completed). It was suggested that the ‘front of house’ supervisor might be able to take on membership admin rather than it being dependent on volunteer efforts. It was agreed that it would not be practicable to have a day-by-day reminder of renewal requirements for each individual membership rather than our ‘annual’ end March/AGM linked renewal. We also wish to have a direct debit payment option available, but this would appear not to be as easy to set up as we have assumed, given our charity banking account.
3. Treasurer’s Report
Dugald reported that all outstanding bills have been paid, and the bank account is in credit. Some grant payments have been received of late. He will provide Pauline with information to enable her to work out how much is still to come from the public funders, which will help in making other financial decisions, though it will be some time yet before the bottom lines become clear. We do not yet know whether HLF will pay us more from their 10% retention before 2020 and there will be retention monies to pay to our builders and design team 12 months after completion. We need to ascertain when the AHF loan is due to be repaid and if we are likely to have further fees to pay Mia for the project consultancy. Further costs are expected as we endeavour to secure funding for the café fit out, with which she is helping.
Dugald will check with the bank if the trading company account (solely for the retail business) has been finalised. We are delighted at the strong turnover evident in the first three weeks of trading, both from entry fees and from shop sales. It will take time to know which Epos reports will be most useful to us. We now have the card payment system and we must encourage people to pay with debit rather than credit cards as the difference in cost to us is significant. It is vital that all stock control goes through the proper channels and that traders do not take it on themselves to put goods on the shelves. Unfortunately, we need notices to remind people that damages must be paid for!
Dugald’s check on the electricity consumption indicated that usage was higher than anticipated. Various examples were given of unnecessary lighting and, possibly, heating. We must monitor and review to ensure we keep costs as low as possible.
4. Curator’s Report
Karen had circulated her Report covering: General Matters (including being diverted from curatorial work to act as project manager for the fit out and ensure the builders dealt with a number of snagging issues); Building and grounds; Collection (including the deaccessioning of a number of objects as listed); Education and training; Curator’s post.
5. L&I Officer’s Report
Katie had circulated her Report covering: Events, outreach and activities (Life on a Croft sessions, Event programme planning, activities in the store, family trails in the Museum, Poolewe Ceilidh, Feis Ros, World War I project tea party); and Volunteers.
Irene requested further details about what is being planned for the winter months and Katie exemplified the range of events that could be offered to attract a broader range of audiences. Liz and Irene offered to help coordinate the planning and running of these, given that Katie’s contract ends in October. It would seem appropriate to expand the ‘Exhibitions’ planning group to embrace other events and activities. We recognise that Katie has made a huge contribution to the development of a comprehensive ‘learning and engagement’ programme.
The Board agreed to Katie’s request that she work away from the distractions of the office one day a week in order to meet the requirements of the funders with respect to various aspects of her role.
6. Museum development: updates & way forward
i) In all respects and universally agreed, the Open Day and official opening by HRH The Princess Royal had been successful beyond measure, generated huge respect for the project outcomes from all quarters and demonstrated the pride the community has in our achievements. There was a great atmosphere and the refreshments on offer to guests were very well received. Janet Bowen, the Lord Lieutenant, has written personally to Karen (already circulated) and Roy/Irene (to go into the Donations Book) and asked that her congratulations be conveyed to all.
ii) Katie has circulated the list that she has been compiling, ongoing, of pertinent comments relating to the displays, interactives, sound systems, film, operational aspects of the building. Some of these, such as lighting adjustments, will require further input from Simpsons/Campbell and Co. Immediate action is required to deal with: the lack of a service contract and manual for the lift; updating of the emergency procedures (Nevis offered to assist Lorna); ensuring that there are always 2 people on duty in the building; metal extrusions; covering up café signs wherever possible.
iii) Pauline reported that she has begun the process of writing the evaluation reports required by several funders now that the Museum is open to the public. She is collecting and collating invoices, photographs, press releases and comments from emails/Facebook/Tripadvisor/Visitors Book to meet the varying requirements. The quarterly HLF Report/Payment Request is also now due.
7. Commercial and retail operations
i) Notes from the meetings of the Commercial Operations Group (COG) held on 24 June and 15 July have been circulated. As yet, given funding constraints, the situation is unchanged regarding the fit out for the café, though it is proving a useful venue for meetings! Dugald advised that it is not uncommon for businesses such as ours to have the catering offer on a fixed rent/% of turnover (not profit) lease.
ii) Having reviewed the current circumstances, the COG group has recommended that we advertise locally for a Front of House Supervisor, on a 25 hours per week ‘average’ contract, with more hours in the summer than through the winter season. After discussion it was agreed that we should progress this immediately but offer an hourly pay of £11, rather than a salaried post, to allow for the flexibility that we require. Pauline will reformat the job description proposed into our house style. As well as a GDT advert, Katie will put the job opportunity onto our social media outlets.
iii) Generally, Epos and other IT systems are working well, though the repaired label program produces labels which are more difficult to scan. Issues are arising about the (inappropriate) behaviour of some children, so Katie will endeavour to recruit some more room stewards, particularly to cover school holiday periods. It was proposed that Nevis and Jeremy join the COG group as they are keyholders.
iv) WHC will lease two rooms on a quarterly rental basis for the next 3 years and has agreed to pay a daily rate for the use of the Activities Room (probably 2 days per week), which means we can offer it, on a day/part day basis to other interested parties.
v) The second retail unit will continue to be used for exhibition purposes until we have a confirmed tenant for it. Insurance issues need to be clarified with respect to covering exhibitions. The cost has been an unanticipated ‘extra’ for the current exhibitions, which include objects and paintings of high value. The Exhibitions Group is meeting again next week.
8. Any Other Business
Our annual Poolewe Ceilidh is on 31 July. Katie is organising the raffle and staffing aspects, Liz the catering. Offers of help were requested and received.
9. Date of next meeting
The next meeting is scheduled for 2 September 2019.
There being no other business, the meeting ended at 9.35 pm.
CURATOR'S REPORT 22.07.19
The past six months have been an abnormal period during which I have had to set aside much of my usual activities to focus on the redevelopment project.
After Campbell & Co. started the fit out of the building, but were seldom present on site, I acquired the role of project manager for the fit out, so that much of my time was spent in the new building ensuring the subcontractors to Campbell & Co. could proceed with the correct information. During this same period, we were required to decant the collection as objects were required for redisplay. Moving the artefact collection safely and installing objects in their new locations was a major task.
Due to the lack of a buildings manager I had to take on aspects of that role, including the security of the building (particularly with regard to the collection) and dealing with the contractors on snagging items (lights not working, sockets missing, urinals not flushing). I also had some last minute changes and fixes to the displays to take care of, such as audiovisuals not operating correctly. The two weeks before and after opening were largely taken up with dealing with tradesmen and subcontractors. I also spent a lot of time cleaning!
The result of this (and of my recent illness) is that I have an inbox containing almost 200 emails with which I have been unable to deal. I am rather behind with projects that we are involved in, such as the digitisation of our oral history collection. Many colleagues are waiting for responses from me on matters that I simply have not had time to think about.
I feel the need to prioritise the collections work which is currently necessary. I think it will be a challenge for me to handle any other enquiries or potential projects that arise at present and for the rest of the season, as I am simply too busy trying to catch up with existing tasks and dealing with aspects of the running of the building and business that our acting manager does not have time for. I would request the board’s understanding of this situation.
Building and Grounds
There have been a few snagging items that have need to be addressed since we moved in. I am now keeping a list which will be passed to the builders at the appropriate time.
There is grass growing up through the sets at the front of the building and it would be great if a volunteer could spray this with weedkiller.
The new storage facilities are a delight and make a huge difference not only to safeguarding the collections, but also to the Curator’s task.
With the exception of some large artworks and the outdoor objects, the entire archive, library and artefact collections are now in the new building. I am working on ensuring they are stored safely and arranged in an accessible way. There is also a lot of documentation work to be done to ensure that we know the location of every item in the collection in the new building. This will take up much of my time over the next few months.
The following objects were deaccessioned with the approval of the chairman during the decant to the new store due to poor condition and/or the existence of better examples in the collection:
There has been a suggestion that Simpsons would sponsor the move of the fog siren to the new building, but I have not heard anything on this recently. The other outdoor objects will be moved over gradually with the exception of the boats. Andrew Tallach has expressed an interest in returning the Queen Mary to Badachro.
Education and Training
There has been little time for professional development recently but I intend to recommence my studies with UHI when the new semester starts in September.
Due to the need to open the building for the cleaner in the mornings and for a member of staff or board member to be present in the building at all times when we are open, I will be working the following hours for the foreseeable future:
8 - 5 Tue-Fri
2 - 6.30 Sat
I would like to request clarification of the Curator’s role in light of the new staffing structure of the building. I would suggest that it is time for an appraisal and for a new job profile to be drawn up for the role outlining the roles and responsibilities of the post in the new business structure.
Karen Buchanan (Curator)
LEARNING & INTERPRETATION OFFICER'S REPORT 22.07.19
Apologies for my lack of reports for the last few meetings. Consider this report as a catch up from the last 3 months.
Events, Outreach and Activities
Life on a Croft Exhibition with the Adult Skills and Learning Group
In previous Board reports, I had mentioned that I was working on a project with the Adult Skills and Learning Group to produce a mini exhibition on ‘Life on a Croft’. Every week for 6 weeks I planned and led workshops on different aspects of daily life living on a croft.
Currently myself and Sarah Wright are putting together exhibition panels based on the workshops. We have not 100% decided where we will put these up, it will depend on how much content we end up producing.
We plan to hold a mini opening event, mainly for the students involved.
Event programme planning
I am, finally, creating a programme of events based on the trialling I have undertaken since the start of my post (and research carried out at the start of the project). My intention is to set up several series of activities and events that will happen every year but these can obviously be added to or developed based on feedback. Happy to go over what I have planned if the Board are interested.
I will be moving away from the ‘Winter Lecture Series’, I feel like this sounds a little dull and based on the limited audience range we attract to these events, I will be using a different approach. Again, happy to go over what I will be doing if the Board are interested.
Activities in the Store
I am in the process of planning a trial series of ‘behind the scenes’ activities in our new store. The two activities I am currently working on are coordinating a general guided tour and a series of still-life drawing sessions with Pat Gulliver.
Earlier in the year, I visited the Highland Folk Museum and Glasgow Museums Resource Centre as part of our Fit Out project to gain a better understanding of behind the scenes activities. I have decided I want to trial a ‘general’ tour of the stores with the hope of introducing specialist tours and an interactive element for children before I finish my post. The intention is that these tours will be run by our cohort of tour guiding volunteers but until I feel more confident with the running of it, Fran and Anne will be assisting me in delivering this.
Pat will be running a series of 3-4 sessions, teaching different art techniques using objects in our store as a focus. I am really keen that we add this sort of thing to the yearly programme of events.
Family trails in the Museum
I currently have 2 of my family trails available at the desk for visitors to follow. I am still in the process of finishing off my children’s activity booklet but hope to have that finished before the end of this month. This will be for a small additional charge. The feedback on these trails so far has been really great.
Our ceilidh is on Wednesday 31st July.
Feis Ros will be playing in the Museum from 2-4pm on Wednesday 7th August.
World War 1 project tea party
On 13th August, our WW1 project group will be holding a themed tea party in our Education room.
Most of my energy over the last month or so has been focussed on volunteer inductions, training and coordination.
Organised an open morning for the new volunteer roles on 14th June. Thanks to Jeremy, Roy, Irene and Marcus for helping me with this. Really well attended. Students from the High School came along as well.
During the first 2 weeks of opening I trained all the volunteers to use the till and on general day to day ‘things’. Everyone is generally getting on very well. Some of our volunteers continue to need support but that was always expected. Considering this is as new for them as it is for us, I think they’re doing exceptionally well.
All volunteer coordinating and training I have now passed over to Lorna. I am finishing up the Reference Guide for the Tour Guide and Museum Steward roles as I am more familiar with our displays than Lorna. Thanks to the Board Members who are helping me with this. We are aiming to get volunteers in these roles, in the Museum, by the beginning of August.
Anything to Add
We’ve had some really lovely feedback from our younger visitors via our Museum postbox. In the past, we always struggled to get feedback from them but this method seems to be working really well.
I have encouraged those who have visited us to leave feedback on our TripAdvisor and Facebook pages and the comments so far have been great.
Any constructive criticism that I have been made aware of, I have included it in the other item I sent around.
Over the last month or so I have been organising fitting out our Education Room. I’ve had a few hold ups with some things and a few companies cancelling my orders because of how far out we are but generally have everything in the space or on its way. I have changed companies for a mixture of reasons which has actually meant that I have some money for general supplies for the room which I am very happy about.
I would like to discuss with the Board the possibility of me working at home at least once a week until the end of my post.
Katie Pilcher (Learning & Interpretation Officer)