MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE BOARD OF THE GAIRLOCH & DISTRICT HERITAGE COMPANY LTD
02 Sep 2019
Roy Macintyre; Karen Buchanan; Pauline Butler; Jeremy Fenton; Nevis Hulme; Irene Macintyre; Alice
Mackenzie; Dugald Macpherson; Willie Macrae; Marcus Simpson; Allan Templeton; Katie Pilcher.
1. Conflicts of Interest
No potential conflict of interest was declared with respect to the Agenda.
2. Minutes of the Board meeting of 22 July & Matters Arising
The minutes were agreed to be a correct record, proposed by Dugald and seconded by Allan. There were no matters arising.
3. Treasurer’s Report
Dugald reported on aspects of income and trading July-August 2019. The bank account currently shows a healthy credit and the income streams from entry, retail and membership are all above expectation. We are delighted at the visitor numbers, boosted perhaps by our effective Facebook postings (thanks to Katie) and highly complimentary TripAdvisor reviews.
There are often discrepancies between EPOS reports and monies actually received, owing probably to ongoing lack of familiarity with how best to work the system. Dugald emphasised that great care must be taken to input accurately. Training is being organised for the new Front of House Supervisor who starts on 16 September. EPOS, card payment and other such set-ups are incurring routine costs we have not previously had to pay. We have a surplus phone line, but WHC currently cannot get the internet access they require and will share ours until they can resolve the issues.
HLF have paid a further 5% of their grant, with just a 5% retention until the revised project end (December). It would be good to pay off some of our AHF loan sooner rather than later, to reduce interest payments. Dugald plans to undertake a cash flow analysis in October, which will help us to manage our new operations efficiently. COG is considering changes as to how membership is paid and organised and will continue to discuss the implications of their proposals, including Gift Aid submission, at their next meeting.
4. Curator’s Report
Karen had circulated her Report covering: General matters; Building and grounds; Collection; Interpretation; Education and training; Outreach; Funding.
i) She is still awaiting details of autumn term classes at SMO, to adjust her working hours accordingly.
ii) For the time being, Rowena Dugdale is willing to let us use her vinyl printer when we have need. However, it might well be worth purchasing our own.
iii) Karen will explore the range of charges levied by other museums for undertaking genealogy enquiries, which we currently do pro bono, though donations are welcome (and sometimes quite generous).
5. Working groups
Considerable discussion took place on the remit and personnel of working groups aiming to ensure an efficient and effective structure to manage our new organisation. There are aspects of our premises and commercial operations which are not within the remit of either of our permanent staff and the responsibility for these needs to be clarified. Some groups that have evolved during the course of the project will continue as currently for the next few months at least (Interpretation; COG; Exhibitions; Publications.)
A Personnel group has been re-established to review job profiles, appointment procedures and the related policies and guidance. Katie is preparing an overview of activities planned for the next few months, run by volunteers with Liz offering to co-ordinate. This should enable distinction between more commercial events, for the Exhibitions group, and what is more the remit of the Interpretation team (education and heritage-based community outreach). The possibility of a part-time post (supported by HIE?) to exploit the commercial, as well as educational, opportunities should be revisited as soon as the financial situation becomes clearer.
Although the importance of having people available to ensure that minor repairs and maintenance inside the building was recognised, no Premises group was set up. The builders are still being informed of snagging issues, which we hope they will address promptly. Recent matters dealt within include: Fire Evacuation notices; most manuals being available (although not those for the alarm system); relocating the emergency lift access equipment and a list of key-holders. Willie has offered to continue to cut the grass for the rest of the season and Nevis is working on Health and Safety guidance, policies and practice. The individual/group responsible for the implementation and monitoring of these, and for overseeing, for example, the renewal of annual maintenance contracts has yet to be settled. Karen agreed to draft a notice for GDT to encourage anyone interested in supporting us as a volunteer janitor to offer their services. In the meantime, members of COG will resolve issues arising.
Pauline requested that each group consider its development aims and programme, for the short term and longer term, as these need to be integrated into the overdue Action Plan 2019-2020 and the Forward Plan 2019-2024, required for Accreditation next year.
6. A Land fit for Heroes? final report
Pauline had circulated the Report submitted to HLF (together with the requisite evaluations, volunteer input and financial summaries) now that the project to commemorate the end of the First World War across Gairloch parish is completed. It had included many different activities and diverse groups. There had been a number of bonus outcomes which had contributed to the reputation of the Museum, to the Collection and to the Three Wars Gallery. She was grateful to Willie MacRobbie and Roy and Irene for sharing their invaluable documentary materials and thanked Dorothy, Liz and, most of all, Katie, for their support with so many of the activities. Pauline had very much enjoyed the project, even though it had, inevitably, been dwarfed by the demands and high profile of the new Museum developments. Roy commended the good work undertaken.
7. L&I Officer’s Report
Katie had circulated her Report covering: Events, outreach and activities (Schools, House of Memories, Life on a Croft with the Skills and Learning Group, Event programme planning, Walks from the Museum, Bank holiday trial, Boxes, Activities in the Store, Family trails in the Museum, Poolewe Ceilidh, Feis Rois, World War I project tea party, Volunteers); Website; Guidebook; GWC.
i) the Skills and Learning Group are contributing to the Doors Open day, 16 September.
ii) the availability of tour guides for general Museum visitors has not worked as hoped. It was agreed to trial Katie’s proposal that the option of a tour guide (volunteer) be offered to pre-booked groups for their visit.
Katie was congratulated on her uplifting report which demonstrated great energy and her ever-positive attitude to getting things done.
8. New Museum project: updates and way forward
i) Pauline will circulate a note to clarify which volunteer activities can continue to be recorded in the volunteer hours tally relating to delivery of the Activity Plan for the quarterly HLF report. All hours on Museum work should continue to be sent through monthly to Karen as evidence for other reports.
ii) The minutes of the Interpretation team meeting on 8 August had been circulated. After discussion about its audibility, the proposal to add subtitles to ensure ‘all abilities’ access to John English’s excellent film was accepted. Roy and Irene would have preferred that the film did not have sub-titles which, they feel, will be detrimental to the viewing experience, but they were overruled by the majority.
iii) Final bills from our builders are still being negotiated and there is ongoing discussion about the valid costs for the additional works undertaken and the lighthouse lens decant. Karen is about to submit a further request for funding support from the Northern Lighthouse Board Trust towards this unexpected expense. We hope a satisfactory resolution can be achieved through our QS and Project Manager. The redundant electricity meter has yet to be removed.
9. Commercial and retail operations
i) Susan Maclean has been appointed as Front of House Supervisor. Barbara Mackenzie has agreed to deputise, partly as a volunteer, partly paid. The ’30 hours average across the year’ working pattern will need to be assessed and monitored. Thursday evenings and Saturdays should now be covered, with employed staff supporting the volunteer on the rota.
ii) It was agreed that Dugald would make the arrangements necessary to enable both the Curator and FoHS access to the company bank account, including, if he were not available, the facility to pay bills.
iii) Notes from the meetings of the Commercial Operations Group held on 29 July and 20 August have been circulated. As yet, given funding constraints, the situation is unchanged regarding the fit out for the café and shops, and no recent interest has been confirmed in either tenancy. COG will consider the possibility of ‘pop-up’ shops before Christmas as a way of generating income.
Various quotations remain under consideration for the kitchen work envisaged and the pricing of electrical work, joinery and plumbing is being updated. LDN architects have completed their contract work, so any further requests to them will likely incur costs.
iv) Marcus continues to identify issues with the EPOS labelling and other functions and is hoping that their engineers will deliver solutions to these problems.
v) The opening hours for October onwards will be considered at the next COG meeting. Staffing costs need to be proportionate with income from visitors during extended hours.
vi) WHC are installing themselves in their area, the lease is close to being finalised and working arrangements in shared areas (eg use of kitchen) are being talked through.
vii) Nevis is working on Health and Safety procedures and Risk Assessments are being reviewed. COG, liaising with Susan and Karen, our ‘duty managers’, will ensure we have covered all that is necessary and monitor practice against theory.
viii) Allan updated the meeting on the exhibitions which have now been confirmed. The High Life Highland WWI display pencilled in for January/February next year has been replaced by exhibitions from the Wester Ross Biosphere Project and West Coast Arts (30th anniversary). A full schedule, predominantly art-based, is now in place for the rest of 2019 and through 2020.
10. Any Other Business
i) Pauline will arrange to meet the new Head of Gairloch High School and invite him, or his representative, and a young person to attend Board meetings.
ii) Karen and Pauline have undertaken a summary review of the 2018-2019 Action Plan, which was extended until the opening of Gairloch Museum on 1 July. This draft will be circulated for comment and amendment, and an interim Action Plan be prepared to cover 1 July 2019-31 March 2020. Lorna, in her High Life Highland role, has indicated that this is acceptable in the circumstances.
iii) Roy proposed that Board meetings might take place on an afternoon in the future. Pauline will circulate members to indicate their responses and availabilities.
iv) We now have two good projectors, so it was agreed to allow GALE to retain the one we have lent them.
v) The Board recognises the valuable contribution made by Lorna as Acting Operations Manager and will acknowledge this appropriately when she comes to the launch of Museums and Heritage Highland being held in the Museum on 18 September.
11. Date of next meeting
The next meeting is scheduled for 7 October 2019.
There being no other business, the meeting ended at 10.15 pm.
CURATOR'S REPORT 02.09.19
I would like to thank the board for reviewing my position and clarifying my role within the new business structure. Once the new Front of House Supervisor has started on 16th September, I trust it will be easier for me to focus on my new role.
Building and Grounds
I am still keeping a snagging list and, when the premises group has been established, would request them to pick this up from me and get in touch with the contractors.
I have resent an email to Roy and Willie about the outside lights and other matters relating to the electrical maintenance of the building and would ask the premises group to pick up this issue. It would be useful to have a definite contact for premises related matters so that I can forward them on for action.
I have made some progress with documentation. The majority of object locations in the display and store areas have now been recorded. Fran and Anne have helped to audit the collection in the store. Once that is completed, I will be in a position to check for any items that are unaccounted for after the decant. I would draw the board’s attention to the fact that some large objects are still in the old museum building and, without assistance, I am unable to move these. Although this has not been a priority during the height of the season, we will need to turn our attention to it soon.
Thanks to assistance from Nevis, Anne Maclennan and Dorothy, the library is becoming better organised. Priority is being given to photographs, rare books and original documents within the lockable archive space. The large donation of books from Sylvia Murdoch’s estate still needs to be accessioned and shelved. There is also a LOT of work to be done on the archive collection, as will be known from previous curator’s report. I sincerely hope to have time to dedicate to this over the winter months, as it has been ignored for too long.
I have purchased library supplies to improve accessibility within the library and Jeremy is helping me with the installation of these. Many books could do with being renumbered and reclassified, but this is not a priority.
A meeting was held of the Interpretation Team and was fruitful in establishing the future development, evaluation and maintenance of museum displays and temporary exhibitions with a local history theme. A report has been submitted to the board. David Campbell visited on 27th August and has left with a number of actions that require follow up, based on our own and visitors’ evaluations of the display galleries.
The Museum’s Association is sending a representative to review the new museum on 10th September. A review will then appear in the museum’s journal.
Education and Training
I attended an excellent workshop in Inverness on Silver Identification and Care. It was run by Lyndsay McGill of NMS in conjunction with High Life Highland.
My UHI studies recommence very soon. This semester I will take modules entitled ‘Traditional Gaelic Culture’ and ‘The Prehistory of the Highlands and Islands’. I am looking forward to them both.
With assistance from Mark Feeny, I have purchased four iPads which will be based in the museum and loaned out locally to the carers of dementia patients. The purpose is to provide access to the House of Memories app. I hope to attract a Duke of Edinburgh student who will take on the maintenance of the iPads and app, and add digital materials to the iPad to allow personalised reminiscence sessions for dementia patients. Katie is organising an event to publicise this initative.
We have had a much higher than average number of genealogy and other archive enquiries since we opened. This could be due to the higher profile of the museum. It could also be linked to the launch of the My Ancestral Scotland initiative in which we are involved. It would be useful to give some thought to the introduction of a pricing scheme for this type of enquiry.
I am working on several important reports to our funders, in particular those who financed the decant, the Learning and Interpretation Officer’s post and the racking for the store and library. I am also writing a further funding application to the Northern Lighthouse Heritage Trust to cover the cost of the lighthouse move.
The final batch of funder fish has been delivered and will be installed in the lobby this week. This initiative has now finished. Campbell and Co. have made the following suggestions for continuing to attract donations:
An additional blank dibond panel installed on the first floor next to the lift. Additional funders names could then be applied to the panel to create an ongoing list of funders.
A blank dibond as above, but instead of names only you could have smaller vinyl fish with names and apply them to the panel. There would probably be an ideal minimum quantity to make it as cost effective as possible. Alternatively we could consider purchasing our own vinyl printer.
Karen Buchanan (Curator)
LEARNING & INTERPRETATION OFFICER'S REPORT 02.09.19
Events, Outreach and Activities
Training - I went to a great training session in Edinburgh last week on School Programmes in Museums. It was a great opportunity for me to learn and to speak to other people in similar positions as me.
Tour for Teachers – I have invited all the local teachers and education providers to a personalised event on Friday 4th October. This will be an opportunity for them to familiarise themselves with the Museum so they can decide if they want to factor a Museum visit into their planning. I will be making them aware of resources etc that are on offer to them. I hope this will increase the number of schools we have visiting but am positive that it will as even before I planned to do this, I have had 2 teachers ask to visit (more than we had in the old building since I’ve been in post).
Self-led visits to the Museum – We will be offering local schools free, self-led visits to the Museum. I am in the process of producing pre-visit and post-visit learning resources and a booking form that will be accessible from our website.
House of Memories
Thanks to work with the House of Memories steering group, funding with help from Mark Feeny and support from GAMS, we will have a couple of tablets in the Museum to be used specifically for the House of Memories app which can be used on site or booked and taken away (as mentioned in Karen’s report).
We will be holding an event at the beginning of October to celebrate the fact we can now offer this service to the community. I will be training carers, staff and interested folk on how to use the app.
Life on a Croft Exhibition with the Adult Skills and Learning Group
I have produced the panels for this exhibition and they are currently with Sarah for input from her group. All being well these will be up in the Museum by the end of September. I hope to be able to organise a small event for the students before the end of my post.
Event programme planning
I am in the process of actioning my events programme and speaking to volunteers and Jim to ensure advertising, supervision and running of these events goes smoothly. I will circulate what I have produced when I have finalised all of these. It is not my intention that more events will be added to these and myself and Liz will discuss how I think this should go once I have finished my post. Happy to speak about what I am doing in more detail. I will bring my working documents with me should anyone be interested to hear more.
Walks from the Museum
Myself, Jeremy and Dorothy have organised to lead 2 walks from the Museum this month, with ‘dry’ activities on hand should the weather not be desirable. The intention with this is that we will have guided walks outside the Museum on offer to visitors during the tourist season/when the weather is nice.
Bank holiday trial
I will not be here to see this through but will have all the necessary advertising and resources in-house. We will have a volunteer on bank holidays acting as a shop keeper in the shop in our displays – telling visitors more about local shops and offering sweets to our young visitors.
I am in the process of unpacking and organising our handling collection from the old museum. I am reviewing and improving the loan boxes and based on feedback I had from teachers at the beginning of my post, will be creating ‘activity’ boxes that teachers/ education providers can ask to use in the activity room during a school visit. All necessary advertisement materials will be created to support these, as most did not know we even have these resources available.
Activities in the Store
Mine and Pat’s drawing sessions start this week, we have had plenty of people interested which is great. We had intended this to be aimed at adults but beginners or thereabouts and to our surprise we have a 12 year coming to them all.
I keep missing paths with Fran and Anne but we are planning an ‘unveiling’ event for our store tours which they will be leading. They will be delivering a talk on the giant task they helped with packing, moving and unpacking the collection. I am over the moon that they are both so willing to do this. I hope this to happen while I am still here but if not, all the prep will be in place for it to go ahead with the necessary evaluations to ensure this continues.
Family trails in the Museum
I AM taking the 17th September off to work at home to finish and send off my children guide booklet. A comment we have had over the last month from visitors who find my current trails too easy is that question based, more interactive activities would be great so I anticipate this being well received. All my own artwork is in this too so I am hoping it’s popular.
We had a total of 25 children and 88 adults. The total raised was £1005 and after paying the band, we have banked £515. We raised £176 on the raffle and £73 on the whisky scam. All in all a good night.
Feis Ros’s performance was popular with visitors and they will be coming back next year.
World War 1 project tea party
This was a really nice event and our first in the activity room. Lots of people attending only had a small role in the overall project but all said it was fascinating to see what else took place.
We now have Tour Guides and Stewards in post.
I have circulated evaluation forms to our Stewards and they are all enjoying what they are doing and getting to speak to our visitors. I asked if they had been passed on any feedback – the two most common ones are visitors struggling to find the toilets and not being able to hear the video in the AV room. Both are being dealt with – I have encouraged any volunteers on the desk to tell visitors where the toilets are when they hand them their map.
It has not been possible to run museum tours on a regular basis: though there are some willing guides, the visitors are not necessarily planning this way to visit the exhibitions. Tour guides will, however, be offered to visiting coach parties/booked groups.
Anything to Add
For each aspect of the Museum that I have been involved with, so Volunteering, Schools, Events, Activities for Families etc etc, I have/will produce information for Jim to put on the website. I had hoped to do this sooner but I just haven’t had the time. I know websites are visited more than most think, especially museum websites, so I am determined to get this done for Jim before I leave.
To my surprise and indeed, the surprise of others, creation of the Guidebook is actually in my job remit – so all I can do is apologise for not having produced this yet. Thankfully, Pauline has pretty much done everything other than bringing it together. Myself and Jim will get this sorted and hopefully it won’t be too long before it is with us.
The Great Wilderness Challenge came around far too quickly and it’s safe to say I’m glad I don’t have to do it again BUT I finished the 25 miles in good time. My wee team (me, my other half and my Dad) set ourselves a goal of raising £1,000 which I am very happy to say we smashed – we raised a total of £1,338.69. Thank you to everyone who supported with a donation and kind words.
Katie Pilcher (Learning & Interpretation Officer)