MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE BOARD OF THE GAIRLOCH & DISTRICT HERITAGE COMPANY LTD
23 Mar 2020
Meeting undertaken by email correspondence
Roy Macintyre; Karen Buchanan; Pauline Butler; Jeremy Fenton; Nevis Hulme; Irene Macintyre; Susan
Maclean; Marcus Simpson; Allan Templeton.
1. Conflicts of Interest
No potential conflict of interest was declared with respect to the Agenda.
2. Minutes of the Board meeting of 17 February & Matters Arising
The minutes were agreed to be a correct record, proposed by Nevis and seconded by Karen.
i) The 2020 AGM has been postponed and will be rescheduled in due course. According to our Articles of Association we have 3 months’ grace but OSCR have already indicated they will be understanding if this is not possible. Susan has informed Gairloch Hotel.
ii) Membermojo is now live and members are renewing through that system, with quite a good response to date following appeals to rejoin to support cash flow. Some renewals had been made in person at the Museum before it closed to the public, and others have come through the post. Jeremy is dealing with queries. He is also willing to consider taking on Gift Aid in the future given input and guidance about the non-membership-related claims.
3. Treasurer’s Report
Dugald’s summary of the current financial situation has been circulated. AHF have agreed to restructure the loan repayments. We have undertaken to repay a minimum of £50k by the end of July and AHF will discuss with us then how we make arrangements to pay the balance. Meantime, we will work to minimise expenditure and to secure payment of the outstanding grants (HLF and RCGF). All exhibits and the outside lights have been switched off at the fuse box in the plant room and heating put as low as is possible given conservation requirements. Susan Maclean (WHC) is checking what the College can do to minimise electricity use.
Dugald has submitted an application for a support grant to the Third Sector Resilience Fund, who should respond within 10 days. We are checking our eligibility for other government grants.
4. Financial Reserves Policy
Just prior to the current extraordinary situation, we were advised to consider having a Financial Reserves policy which would be included in the annual accounts and ensure we could cope with, for example, redundancy payments and tiding us over the winter months. The draft proposed was ratified.
5. Curator’s Report
Karen’s Report has been circulated. It covered: Building and grounds; Administration; Collections; Interpretation and displays; Education and training; Funding; Miscellaneous.
The Museum closed to the public on Thursday 19 March. Karen and Jeanette are posting on Facebook to keep our audiences informed and interested, and ways of generating income will be pursued.
6. Review of general Museum policies and guidance
Following feedback, Pauline has re-circulated the general Museum Policies and Guidance which have been revised for our current operation and were considered at the last Board meeting. All agreed that they could now be ratified. Using an exemplar from the National Library of Scotland, the Privacy Notice circulated has been further amended to cover our use of CCTV cameras. We are also now registered with the Information Commissioner as required.
It is recognised that further revision of our policies will most likely be necessary before the standard 3-year review. Work is ongoing on the curatorial policies & emergency procedures relating to the collections.
7. Working groups: terms of reference
Pauline had circulated the terms of reference for 2020-2021 proposed by each working group. All respondents indicated acceptance of these. Decisions as to financial allowances for each group have been deferred given the current situation.
8. New Museum project: updates and way forward
i) Roy reported on various work related to the building and grounds
- Simpsons have been carrying out snagging items over the two or three weeks before they left
the site. A new gully has been installed to control the excessive scouring, which was causing problems on our car park and our neighbour’s driveway. A pipe has been installed to minimise the standing water on the path
- sealant has been applied to the office floor
- David Lawrie, architect, visited on Monday 23 March to check the work on the kitchen. He was satisfied with what had been done and we await his report. As not all the items identified have been checked, it is expected that the period for snagging will be extended.
Further specific queries about unsatisfactory fittings/finishes have been passed on to Roy for future consideration.
ii) Pauline provided a written update on funding applications made. It is not known if the grant-givers will delay making decisions, or even withdraw their funding intentions (eg for projects related to Scotland’s 2020 Year of Coasts and Waters) in light of the coronavirus situation. Further to the update, notification has now been received that HES have judged that we have a valid cause for funding and can proceed to a full application (deadline end May, decision early August) and the Nineveh Trust has postponed its decision making on funding applications until at least July. The necessary application for planning consent for the external improvements has been lodged with Highland Council.
iii) We are entered for four Awards for the new Museum. At the moment, all decisions have been suspended, though all hope to resume their judging in due course.
9. Commercial and retail operations
i) Roy reported that the café fit-out is almost complete. Simpsons and Scotts continued to work on site and it was planned that the commissioning would be undertaken on Wednesday 25 March. However, all work was stopped on Tuesday 24th by government-announced restrictions. Roy is in touch with HIE to keep them informed. A delivery of gas was received on Friday 19 March to enable the gas cooker to be commissioned. David will have to apply for a completion certificate for the work. We have not ordered tables, chairs, crockery etc. at this time, nor pursued our search for staff members for the café.
ii) Adjustments have been made to the EPOS system to tailor its use to suit our requirements. Irene has managed to put all stock holders on hold apart from books, toys and goods from Johnstone of Elgin. We have credit for the books till July and she will negotiate for an extension.
iii) Susan’s report, covering volunteer training, winter talks and occasional licences, with an update given the Museum closure, has been circulated. Further to this, Susan has been in touch with Alan Mackenzie, VisitScotland. All Quality Assurance visits and related payments are postponed until after the Covid 19 outbreak.
Allan will circulate all COG members with an update and request further comments in order to have dealt with business for the scheduled 31 March meeting.
iv) In view of the decision to close the Museum, Susan has been working from home as of 23 March and is on holiday for the first week in April. By then, we should be clearer as to whether she will keep to the agreed winter hours or whether there is a better option via a government support scheme. Karen is able to work on her own in the building. No volunteers were at the desk after Monday 16 March.
v) Sheila Mortlock’s exhibition started well with a few sales on the preview night and good feedback but it was only open for a week. BPOTY is on hold, we are in touch with Rob Read. Our next exhibition with Lucy Barlow has been cancelled but she has requested a slot next year. Jeremy has contacted the Munro Society about the exhibition planned for June, which is not likely to happen. They would be happy to move it to August 2020, or to next year. We will also liaise with Historic Scotland with respect to their flexibility. Susan has been in touch with Sarah Milteer (July-August). The Exhibition Planning Group meeting scheduled for 22 April is likely to be postponed.
10. Date of next meeting
The date of the next meeting will be proposed in due course.
CURATOR'S REPORT 23.03.20
Building and Grounds
Some of the snagging works have been carried out recently, including the cracks in the ground floor screed. There are still outstanding snagging items and we need to continue to chase Simpsons about this.
The museum closed on 19th March due to the Coronavirus pandemic. In the interim, I intend to focus on collections work, preparing for Accreditation and improving our online engagement.
I have not had time to set up the Office 365 system but will do it as a priority so that Susan can work from home if necessary.
The majority of our website content has now been completed, though the section on the collections still needs work. A new leaflet was prepared with help from Jim Buchanan and Jeanette Whittaker. This was distributed at BLEAT but further distribution has been halted until the museum reopens.
It is likely that our quality assurance visit from Visit Scotland will be not be scheduled for the near future. Susan has had a discussion with Alan Mackenzie about what is required and I will liaise with her on this. The grading will be affected by the status of the café, which remains uncertain at this point.
No progress has been made on moving the several large objects from the old museum to the new one. Once the good weather is here we really need to get on with this.
The accessions backlog is a priority for the next few weeks. I hope to be able to deal with the archive backlog to some extent, as well as the objects.
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.
Interpretation and Displays
See the minutes of the Interpretation Team meeting on 28th February for updates.
Education and Training
I recently attended a workshop on Caring for Community Archives at National Library of Scotland in Glasgow. There was a useful information session on types of storage for oral archives and conservation issues. I delivered a presentation on how we used sound and moving image in our new displays and there were other interesting sessions from community groups on using their oral archives for outreach.
I also attended a wonderful one day conference at National Museums Scotland entitled Museums and Contemporary Craft. There were a number of presentations from museums who have worked with makers to create objects inspired by their collection. The benefits for both parties were explored.
MGS have settled the claim for the LIO post and Bòrd na Gaidhlig have prepaid a sum for the workshop that Roddy Maclean was to run in May. Unfortunately the latter will have to be cancelled but we have already had an email from BnG to say that funding can be carried forward.
The Museums and Heritage Awards, Scottish Civic Trust and the Art Fund have all been in contact to say that they are delaying the announcement of awards this year. No doubt they will be in touch at a future date.
Karen Buchanan (Curator)