MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE BOARD OF THE

GAIRLOCH & DISTRICT HERITAGE COMPANY LTD

27 May 2020

Information collated from:

Roy Macintyre; Karen Buchanan; Pauline Butler; Dugald Macpherson; Allan Templeton

 

1. AGM           

No date can be decided on for the 2020 AGM as yet. It now looks unlikely that we will be able to hold

it within the 15 months of the previous one (15 April 2019) as our Articles of Association require, but

OSCR has reiterated that it will be understanding of any reasonable rearrangements in the

circumstances.

 

2. Financial situation

The final tranche of the HLF grant was received in April and the last payment from the RCGF came from Highland Council in May. So, all ‘new Museum’ grant payments have now come through and we can stop chasing them.

 

Having repaid £12K to AHF in April, we intend to repay a further £50k in the near future and AHF are open to discussions in July as to reviewing the schedule to pay the balance. Interest continues to accrue meanwhile.

 

After detailed income and expenditure analyses, Dugald and Roy prepared a cash flow forecast for May-July which was used to support an application to Museum Galleries Scotland for a Covid-19 Emergency Grant to cover operational costs for that three-month period. We requested, and were granted, £26,200, which should, we believe, be paid into our account quite quickly.

 

The other big payment due, in July, is the final retention of almost £46K to Simpsons, one year on. An application was made to the Heritage Emergency Fund (HLF are now the National Lottery Heritage Fund - NLHF) for this amount and, in record time, our request was granted in full, to our great relief and gratitude. Pauline is currently finalising the admin required to ensure that payment comes through in due course.

 

We are putting on record that the support from both MGS and NLHF’s officers throughout the processes of applying for emergency funding has been excellent: we could not have hoped for more personal and professional understanding and active help.

 

To date, financial support from the various government business resilience funds to which Dugald has applied has not been forthcoming, probably because our current bank account ‘bottom line’ does not look too urgent or precarious. Whether there will still be support available for the tourist sector to help us keep going through until the 2021 season is yet to be seen. We endorsed a letter that came via Visit Wester Ross which was sent to the Scottish Government about the effects on Highland tourism of the long-term shutdown.

 

3. Staffing        

We have taken advantage of the Job Retention Scheme for our permanent staff, with Susan being on furlough since 6 April and Karen since 1 May. This has to be committed to in three week tranches. Once details and likely time-tables for the end of ‘lockdown’ are made known, it may make sense, and be permissible, to bring staff back part-time in the first instance.

 

4. Curatorial work

The Museum closed to the public on Thursday 19 March. From then, until she was furloughed, Karen was able to concentrate on collections work, making headway with the accessions backlog. Attention was also given to some new labels and other tweaks to displays and preventive conservation.  A good number of boxes sitting since the move has also been processed. Guidance has been given as to the care and conservation of the Collections during the prolonged closure, including the minimum temperature/humidity levels required to meet the insurance conditions for our NMS loan objects. The necessary monitoring is being undertaken.

 

Museum emails are being checked and relevant information, particularly about the support available to the tourism and museum sector, is circulated as appropriate.

 

Facebook has been used ongoing to keep our audiences informed and interested and this has been complimented by Kay Jackson of Baxters, who very much enjoyed her visit to see us, just before the doors were closed.

 

5. Policies, 2020-2021 Action Plan and new 5-Year Forward Plan 2020-2025

Progress on these is, inevitably, stalled in the current circumstances, though they have not been forgotten! MGS Accreditation reassessments have also been suspended for the time being, so there is no immediate urgency.

 

6. Museum projects: updates and way forward

i) Planning consent has been secured from Highland Council for the ‘outdoors story’ proposals. With

respect to funding applications for these projects: SSE and SNH have declined giving us any grants for

this purpose; we have been offered £12,500 from the Postcode Trust for the Archaeology Trail,

provided it is completed by June 2021; and a Stage 2 application has gone in to HES’ Coasts and

Waters funding for 50% (max. allowed – so £13K) for the seaward amenity site with an amended, not

ideal, work schedule from October 2020-April 2021 (in hope). However, we need to have match

funding in place before any work can begin, even if we are successful with being awarded the grant

requested.

 

ii) Owing to Covid-19 priorities, Baxters are not accepting any funding requests until at least August,

although initial enquiries had suggested the interpretation and benches aspects would be an

acceptable focus for a funding bid. The Nineveh Trust also has stalled all general funding applications.

Pauline has identified two further smaller trusts to which she will make applications in the near future,

but it is beginning to look as if we will only be able to progress the work planned if we are able to

commit a substantial amount of our own monies, or have a successful donations campaign for the

purpose.

 

iii) We have had no further information about judging, visits or decisions with respect to the four ‘new

museum’ awards for which we have been entered. Pauline and Karen took part in a discussion with

staff of the Art Fund (‘Museum of the Year’) about our current circumstances on 14 May but have heard

nothing since.

 

7. Commercial and retail operations

Two COG reports are attached, 30 March and 21 May, and provide a summary of how normal

operations are suspended for the time being, but will be ready to go, when permitted in ‘Phase 3’

of the Scottish Government’s route map (“Museums, galleries, cinemas, and libraries can open,

subject to physical distancing and hygiene measures”).

 

8. Any other business

Please, do keep in touch! It looks as if it will be a few weeks yet before we can reconvene as a

Board but it is Important that everyone still feels involved and engaged, so do let us (Roy/Pauline)

know how things are going for you, any good ideas for fund-raising in the autumn, events for the

future and any thoughts you have that will ensure that, once the show is back on the road, we can

resume the momentum of the first eight months.

 

Pauline Butler

27 May 2020.

 

Gairloch Museum, Gairloch, Ross-shire, IV21 2BH

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