MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE BOARD OF THE GAIRLOCH & DISTRICT HERITAGE COMPANY LTD
18 Nov 2019
Roy Macintyre; Karen Buchanan; Pauline Butler; Stuart Caddell; Jeremy Fenton; Liz Forrest; Nevis Hulme; Irene Macintyre; Alice Mackenzie; Susan Maclean; Dugald Macpherson; Willie Macrae; Marcus Simpson; Allan Templeton.
Stuart Caddell, Depute Head of Gairloch High School, was welcomed to the meeting.
1. Conflicts of Interest
No potential conflict of interest was declared with respect to the Agenda.
2. Minutes of the Board meeting of 7 October & Matters Arising
The minutes were agreed to be a correct record, proposed by Jeremy and seconded by Susan.
i) A date for the 2020 AGM has yet to be finalised. Karen will contact a potential speaker.
ii) SSE has confirmed that, having met all the terms of the 2016 grant, we are eligible to apply for their next round of Sustainable Development funding, deadline 15 January 2020. Roy will follow up other potential avenues of funding support for the desired external landscaping and interpretation.
3. Treasurer’s Report
Dugald presented a summary financial performance analysis 1 July-16 November 2019. The bank account continues to show a respectable credit and we are paying all bills promptly. Half of our income at present derives from admissions and 42% from retail. He continues to monitor the electricity costs closely. £175K has been repaid now of the AHF loan. Both Pauline and Karen are in the process of writing the several evaluation/final reports due November/December which should result in outstanding grants being paid.
Dugald had reviewed the costs of having a liquor licence. The initial application and training costs were considerable and there is an ongoing fortnightly fee for the retail element. However, once the café is operational and with a full season’s trading, it should make commercial sense over the longer term.
4. Curator’s Report
Karen had circulated her Report covering: Building and grounds; Collection; Interpretation; Education and training; Outreach; Funding.
i) Karen’s request to purchase a new computer @£500-600, to be dedicated to Adlib use, was agreed.
ii) In response to a query, she explained how she back-ups all Museum data. She would like to have an internal server for the building, to allow for file sharing and greater efficiency, but this would seem to be quite costly. Stuart offered to advise on such IT matters and Karen will provide the information he requested.
iii) Given the quoted cost of replacing the existing midge machine label with one on a taller stand, it was agreed not to proceed with this at the moment.
iv) Both High School students now helping the Museum are doing so as part of their Duke of Edinburgh Award.
v) Removal and disposal (if appropriate), of the larger items still outside at the old building needs to be actioned. The Board agreed to de-accession OBJ1063 and OBJ1282.
vi) It was agreed that a doorbell and a letter box were necessary. The doorbell will be included in the electrical work when the additional lighting is installed; Roy will consider how best to install a letter box.
vii) Karen will follow up her request for additional funding towards the lighthouse lens decant costs when she returns from leave, should there still be no reply from the Northern Lighthouse Trust.
5. 2019-2020 Action Plan
An Action Plan is one of the requirements for both Accreditation and our High Life Highland Service Delivery agreement. Pauline has circulated the draft 2019-2020 Action Plan and will make amendments following comments received. The Action Plan was ratified by the Board. It should be recognised as valuable strategic exercise, not just an administrative chore.
6. Working groups
Clarification and agreement is needed as to the remit and responsibilities of each working group. Pauline requested that each group address this at its next meeting. Dugald considered that COG should separate out premises issues from financial/retail ones and review how it worked accordingly.
7. New Museum project: updates and way forward
i) Various snagging issues continue to be addressed. Preparation of a 5-Year Maintenance Plan to protect the capital investment is included in the Action Plan, as required by HLF.
ii) The materials for the lighting improvements have been ordered, as per Campbell & Co.’s recommendations. Estimates to undertake the electrical work for installation are being received. Appropriate acoustic panels are being sourced.
iii) Roy and Dugald attended a meeting with the contractors to consider the final accounts, which impacts on our cash flow and future contracts with the builders. Correspondence on this is still ongoing.
9. Commercial and retail operations
i) HIE have confirmed that they will contribute 35% of the café fit out costs. COG has recommended that the work be progressed over the winter, with a 4-6 week build-time envisaged. There are still uncertainties about the costs of connecting the gas supply and necessary electrical work. The second retail unit remains untenanted. A tentative expression of interest has been received which needs to be followed up. Susan is finalising the arrangements for the ‘pop-up’ shops 2-21 December and will promote these appropriately.
ii) Further updates have been installed on the EPOS system, with buttons now for gift vouchers and group bookings. It is possible to add online sales, using PayPal or similar, should we so wish. It seems that mis-allocations on the system in early July cannot be rectified.
iii) The Museum is open 11am-4pm until 21 December, except Tuesdays and Sundays. The hours for opening 20 January 2020 onwards will be decided in due course and may be affected by café installation work.
iv) Allan explained an offer from HES to display their ‘Scotland from the Sky’ exhibition, for which they have no other potential NW Scotland venue. It could be adapted to fit either the downstairs retail area or the café and would be available from July-September 2020. He would try to arrange a related talk. Jeremy has ascertained the availability of an exhibition from the Munro Society which would also be good to have – potentially from May 2020.
v) On 7 November Karen led the first winter session with volunteer curators interested to learn more about some of our displays. 17 attended and it was very successful. Four more are scheduled. A reference library for the volunteers is being assembled, together with details of books/booklets for sale in the shop and for research for their information.
vi) Susan continues to contact organisations which might bring tour groups to the Museum. Eclipse Tours and Torridon Tours are already interested for the coming season and we have a booking from Hebridean Princess in May 2020. Gairloch Hotel is buying ‘packages’ for its coach party guests.
vii) The lease with West Highland College is still with our respective solicitors.
viii) Nevis has met Karen about the Emergency Plan as it relates to the collection. He continues to work on updating our Health and Safety policy.
10. Any Other Business
i) Susan explained the arrangements she is making for the ‘Christmas at the Museum’ event on 14 December, to include Christmas tree, Santa (in the croft house), a drawing competition and carol-singers. Barbara Mackenzie and Mandy McIintosh are helping with this. Board members agreed to make it a ‘free entry’ day.
ii) Allan would like to plan a sequence of monthly talks by well-known speakers for next year and will set up a small group to work on this. It is likely that costs will be incurred, so discussion took place about the need to charge for attendance, rather than request donations as is our current practice.
iii) On behalf of the Museum, Pauline had given a talk at the Community Heritage conference held in Birnam on 9 November. Feedback had been very positive and many people had expressed their intentions to come to visit.
iv) Board members were invited to share their thoughts on the successes and challenges of the new Museum project to inform the ‘Review’ section of the HLF Evaluation Report.
11. Date of next meeting
The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday 14 January 2020 at 4pm, to trial the proposal that our meetings take place on afternoons during the winter months.
There being no other business, the meeting ended at 9.30 pm.
CURATOR'S REPORT 18.11.19
Building and Grounds
Snagging matters are still cropping up. A list was reported to the architects and a further list is being created.
The lack of doorbell and letterbox is proving to be a nuisance now that the building is open shorter hours. I suggest we install a mail box outside the front door. When installing a doorbell, it might be advisable to install one for the college too. We have requested that WHC only allow students in the building when there are key holders present. As Susan Maclean is often not in the building when students are taking classes, arrangements need to be made to ensure there is cover. It is necessary to liaise with the college about this on a regular basis, as staff are not always in regular hours.
There is an enormous amount of work remaining to be done on the collection. Some of this results from the decant. Although we made good progress auditing the objects in the store and getting them onto Adlib, I have not yet had time to audit the display areas and to undertake final checks to ensure that no objects have gone missing during the decant.
Sone large objects are still in the old museum building and, without assistance, I am unable to move these. I await instructions as to how this can be achieved.
With the agreement of the Chairman I have deaccessioned two objects and would like the board to minute this. Their numbers are OBJ1063 and OBJ1282.
The library has been mainly cleared of boxes, though one or two remain. Books are mostly now on the shelves, and organised using the new library supplies. However, it is necessary to do an appraisal of the collection, as there are multiple duplicate publications in the library which should be disposed of. It is also necessary to separate out the rare books from the loan publications. Some of the books need reclassifying and all of them need renumbering. In addition, we received a donation from the library of Sylvia Murdoch which consists or around 40 books. These all need to be accessioned, numbered and added to the library shelves. With the help of Anne Maclennan, I have gone through all of the back issues of the Gairloch and District Times and put the duplicates to one side. I would like to dispose of these, with the board’s permission. I am in the process or sorting out the other periodicals in the collection, after which they will need to go onto Adlib.
There is a massive accessions backlog in the archive. Were I to dedicate my entire time to this over the winter, it is questionable whether I would manage to complete it. We have now reached the point where we need to stop acquiring archive material and photographs until the backlog can be cleared. Either that, or I need to be allowed the time to focus on this collections work.
I am delighted that Calum Rae has volunteered as part of his Duke of Edinburgh award to help with the appraisal and cataloguing of the slide and photograph collections. Calum is currently going through unaccessioned photographic slides, assessing their historical value. He will then move on to cross referencing the catalogue information relating to our photograph collection in hard copy and on Adlib.
The bulk of our oral history collection is currently with the Unlocking Our Sound Heritage project at National Library of Scotland. This was regrettably taken away against my instructions while I was ill, and before I had a chance to catalogue it. I have now had to try and do this remotely, based on the very incomplete index that we have, and the inventory that NLS have made. My finding is that there is a lot of duplication in our oral history archive and, when it returns from NLS, it will be necessary to work through the collection, decide which versions of recordings will be preserved and make sure the index is brought up to date to include all recordings. This should be helped by the work of NLS who, I believe, will summarise all the recordings.
There was a meeting of the Interpretation Team on 9th October and I have circulated the minutes to the board. At that meeting it was agreed to commence a winter training programme for volunteers. The first session took place in early November and was well received.
I have been informed by the editor of the Museum’s Journal that we are to be the lead review in their December edition.
Education and Training
My UHI studies have proved challenging this semester. It has been difficult to find the time to complete the seven assignments associated with the two modules I am taking. This will, however, be the last time I have to take two modules in one semester. The subjects have been both interesting and useful. In particular I have expanded my knowledge considerably on the prehistory of the Highlands and Islands. My thanks to Jeremy for his help with content on the Achtercairn roundhouses for one of my assignments. A welcome outcome was bringing this site to the attention of the tutors, who were very interested in it.
Two of our HOM iPads are currently out on loan. Adam French, a student from Gairloch High School, has volunteered to maintain and manage the iPad library as part of his Duke of Edinburgh Award. He will also add additional materials to the iPads that can be used for reminiscence purposes.
I had a visit from the National Trust for Scotland Archivist, Collections Manager, Conservator and Loans Officer. Consideration is being given to loaning some of the material from the Inverewe archive to the museum so that it is more accessible to researchers. Discussion is ongoing as to which material and in what format. A desirable outcome would be a joint exhibition based on the archive material, perhaps for the ‘Explore Your Archive’ event next November.
We have not yet heard back from the Northern Lighthouse Trust following our application to them in September.
I have regrettably made no progress whatsoever on the 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. This must be a priority when I return from leave at the beginning of December.
Karen Buchanan (Curator)