MINUTES OF THE (ZOOM) MEETING OF THE BOARD OF THE GAIRLOCH & DISTRICT HERITAGE COMPANY LTD
23 Sep 2020
Roy Macintyre; Karen Buchanan; Pauline Butler; Jeremy Fenton; Liz Forrest; Nevis Hulme; Irene Macintyre; Susan Maclean; Anne MacLennan; Allan Templeton; Ben Thomas.
Stuart Caddell; Willie Macrae; Jean Ross.
Ben was welcomed on his return to Board meetings.
Roy has received a letter of resignation from Marcus, owing to personal circumstances, and will respond on behalf of the Board.
1. Conflicts of Interest
No potential conflict of interest was declared with respect to the Agenda.
2. Minutes of the (Zoom) Board meeting of 4 August
The minutes of the 4 August meeting were agreed to be a correct record, proposed by Anne and seconded by Allan.
i) Dugald continues to deal with Museum finances generally, and the 2019 Accounts in particular, for the time being. He will arrange the transfer of financial affairs to David Rae at his convenience.
ii) The Nineveh Trust has awarded the Museum £5000 towards the Archaeology Trail, so we now have £17,500 of grant funding towards that one element of the ‘outdoors museum’ projects. We have not been successful with either application for ‘Year of Coasts and Waters’ funding and still await two decisions from private trusts.
iii) Most of the work clearing the boats and other objects from the grounds of the ‘old’ museum has now been completed, with just some final tidying up to resolve with the landowner.
3. Financial report
Dugald has circulated a ‘Profit and Loss’ summary for the three months to 19 September. Since reopening on 23 July, operational costs have been covered by visitor entry fees and good retail sales (including exhibitions). The bank balance has been boosted by grant payments. A further tranche of the AHF bridging loan has been paid, making a total of £117,000 this year. Roy’s negotiation with AHF has secured agreement that the final £51K + accrued interest can be paid as affordable between now and September 2021, by which time we hope that visitor numbers will have increased well beyond the current tally which is about one-third of our pre-Covid forecasts.
4. Curator’s Report
Karen presented her Report covering: Building and grounds; Collections; Interpretation and displays; Education and training; Funding; Events; ‘Museums Passion’ (national museums campaign, 12-17 October). She added that discussions are ongoing as to how best to remedy the ongoing ventilation issues.
5. Covid-19 funding applications
Pauline has circulated a summary of the 5 funding applications submitted to date. The unexpected opportunity to apply to a Wolfson Foundation Covid support fund came as a consequence of their grant towards the ‘new Museum’ project. A further application, for MGS’ new ‘Resilience Fund’, is due to be completed in the next week. Jeremy will provide Pauline with monthly membership income from April onwards for this.
6. Commercial and retail operations
i) The notes from the COG meeting of 9 September have been circulated, as has an update Report from Susan with respect to staffing and trading. The booking system has worked well. We are seeing a very different range of visitors at present, with very few locals, almost none from overseas, but plenty of campervan passers-by. One consequence is that the pattern of shop purchases has changed in these strange times, with book sales down, but gin purchases increased for example. It was recognised that we should use our GDT pages and social media to encourage local people to come into the retail areas, even if they choose not to visit the galleries. We appreciate the high profile that 2LR is giving us in their daily ‘What’s On’.
ii) We still await completion and hygiene certificates for the café. We intend to request funding support from the MGS Resilience Fund towards the set-up costs for the café and should know by the end of October if that is forthcoming. Having consulted with David Campbell as to what style would complement the museum design, we have received table and chair samples. At the recent COG meeting, it had been proposed that the café have a ‘bard’ theme. This was approved. The Interpretation Group will work on the content and Karen will contact David C. for guidance on the costs of appropriate wall panels. Roy will endeavour to get a quotation for carpeting before we submit the MGS application, as this would certainly limit the ‘echo’ of the bare walls and floor which is likely to impact on those visiting the adjoining galleries.
iii) Thanks to the grant from the Heritage Emergency Fund, we can cover our additional ‘Good to Go’ staffing costs until the end of October. It is likely that opening hours will be reduced from November onwards, as visitor numbers inevitably decline. Unfortunately, there is no likelihood of a Christmas event this year, neither for the community benefit nor our finances. Given that the current Covid-related restrictions look to be a long-term reality, we agreed that it is critical that we review and develop how we engage our audiences and generate new digital revenue streams. That the website pages on two recent exhibitions generated stronger sales than would have been the case from actual visits is one example of the potential. If we secure the grant requested from the Art Fund’s Reimagine and Respond programme, a priority for the proposed Events Coordinator will be to provide us with the technical expertise we currently lack, and to train and support staff and volunteers in these skills. Ben offered to work on the analytics of our website to establish baseline data.
iv) Allan has circulated the notes of the most recent Exhibitions Planning Group meeting. The schedule for both galleries 2021-2022 is almost complete. New recruits to the Group would be welcome.
v) Roy has investigated the relative costs of new and second-hand storage containers as required to house several large objects in our Collection which cannot be displayed. It was agreed to purchase a new container as soon as we feel we are financially secure enough to afford it.
vi) Our accountants, PNL, have advised that we take out their recommended insurance policy against tax investigations. This was agreed.
7. Any Other Business
i) Sadie Page has offered to help with organising fund-raising and donations towards the ‘Outdoors Museum’ project. Pauline has already provided the details of the three elements of what is proposed and Susan will liaise with Sadie on the fundraising campaign.
ii) With regret, we are not able to help with a request from a community group to use our café facilities for a Christmas lunch this year.
8. Date of next meeting
The next meeting is scheduled for 11 November 2020 at 4.30 pm.
There being no other business, the meeting ended at 6 pm.
CURATOR'S REPORT 23.09.20
Building and Grounds
I had a discussion with Stuart MacPherson about the ventilation and heating issues. David Lawrie has confirmed to me that they are in discussions about how to resolve the problems. He stated that Peter McIlheney is available to advise on the fit out of the café.
I have been dealing with utilities issues arising from our current and previous suppliers. The latter is hopefully now resolved. The former rumbles on.
All of the large, outdoor objects in the collection have now been moved to the new building.
All temporary numbers in the artefact collection have now been accessioned. This means that our accessions backlog has finally been concluded, a process started by Rob Scott some time ago. Whilst there are a few new acquisitions waiting to be accessioned, the artefact collection is now in great shape in terms of its conservation, storage and documentation.
By contrast, there is an enormous amount of work to be done in the library and archive. This must take priority as far as collections work goes over the next couple of years.
We have had numerous archive enquiries since reopening. Dorothy Malone has been very helpful in dealing with these and has generated donations in the region of around £500 for the museum.
Interpretation and Displays
The Interpretation Team will need to meet to discuss the forthcoming interpretation projects for the café and the outdoor museum.
Museums Heritage Highlands have received funding for the costume project. We will showcase our Gairloch pattern objects and associated materials. Hopefully there will also be an opportunity for increasing sales of knitting patterns and Gairloch pattern retail items.
Following a request from Roy, clips of the Otoxo film are now showing in the film theatre.
Education and Training
This semester I am taking a compulsory module entitled Scotland in Film, which looks at representations of Scotland in films since 1950s.
I have attended numerous virtual training events including digitising images, using digital audio for heritage interpretation and putting events online. I am also participating in the MHH Heritage Cafes every fortnight to keep in touch with the other Highland Museums.
I am working on an application to the MGS Recovery and Resilience Fund to cover various aspects of our development and operations throughout the winter.
We are currently looking into how we can reimagine our events programme in light of social distancing measures. We have not yet heard whether our Arts Fund application for a freelance worker to assist with this has been successful.
We are taking part in a national museums campaign in October which will bring us great benefits in terms of our profile and audience development. I am working with Art Fund on various aspects of this, including the creation of an animated film and digital book. We have some funding for Eilidh Smith to help with events and marketing between now and the end of the campaign week, which runs from 12-17 October.
Karen Buchanan (Curator)