Venue: Committee Suite, Civic Centre, Poole BH15 2RU. View directions
Contact: Nicky Hooley 01202 128737
To receive any apologies for absence from members of the Committee.
Declarations of Interests
Councillors are requested to declare any interests on items included in this agenda. Please refer to the workflow on the preceding page for guidance.
Declarations received will be reported at the meeting.
To confirm and sign as a correct record the minutes of the Meeting held on 22 October 2021 and 12 January 2022.
To receive any public questions, statements or petitions submitted in accordance with the Constitution. Further information on the requirements for submitting these is available to view at the following link:-
The deadline for the submission of public questions is 4 clear working days before the meeting.
The deadline for the submission of a statement is midday the working day before the meeting.
The deadline for the submission of a petition is 10 working days before the meeting.
This report provides an update on the activities of the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum from October 2021 – March 2022 including the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Museum has been open for the entire period, with the exception of a 3 week closure in January for the planned installation of a new fire panel. Although, visitor confidence has been impacted by the new Omicron variants since December and there have been challenges maintaining all services, generally the return to the new normal has been very successful.
Visitor numbers are 92% of pre-Covid levels, exhibitions, events and family activities have returned with considerable success (compared to 77% for year as a whole). The shop and café are similarly doing well. Investment has been made in the conservation of the historic interiors and some collections items to enhance the visitor experience.
2022 is the Museum’s Centenary year and a programme of activities for the year have begun well.
The Museum has been successful in its application for funding from the Arts Council MEND fund which will secure the conservatory, replace plant including the air handling units and improve drainage.
The Russell-Cotes is a charity which is managed by the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum Management Committee as a delegated sub-committee of Cabinet. The Committee has a membership of 3 councillors (with voting rights), 4 external appointees (without voting rights) and Sir George Meyrick.
Largely due to Covid, the renewal of the Committee membership has been challenging and subject to delays and the Management Committee is currently in a position where, under the Terms of Reference it is due to lose 3 of its 4 external members by October 2022.
Russell-Cotes is currently in an exceptional moment in its history where it faces very significant challenges and opportunities. Since 2018, the Management Committee has been exploring how to improve the governance arrangements of the Russell-Cotes to ensure that it can thrive in the long term, given the compromised governance arrangements and the challenges of Local Authority funding. It has reached a pivotal moment in this long and complicated process and over the next few months, it is anticipated that very significant decisions will need to be made on whether and how to pursue this direction of travel.
2022 is also the Centenary Year for the Russell-Cotes with increased programming, marketing and activities drawing attention locally, regionally and nationally to this iconic heritage and cultural asset of Bournemouth.
To note the new acquisitions to the Collection (the material owned and held in trust by the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum charity in accordance with its charitable objectives) and the loan of material to other institutions (i.e. public art galleries and museums and to approve the disposal of items in the collection according to the Museums Association Code of Ethics.
Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum is a registered charity (306288) of which BCP Council is Trustee.
The building and services of the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum, which is Grade 2* listed are in desperate need of repair and renewal. According to a specialist building survey, nearly £4million of work is required in the next 5 years.
The Russell-Cotes has been successful in applying to the MEND (Museums Estates and Development) Fund established by Arts Council England (ACE) specifically to address the backlog of urgent repairs needed in the Museum sector and support environmental and financial sustainability.
This major investment to carry out urgent capital work including restoring the conservatory, replacing the end of life Air Handling Units, improving drainage and improving CCTV security will cost £974,000.
A grant of £518,000 has been awarded by MEND, £30,000 has been fundraised for the conservatory and match funding of £426,000 has been agreed by BCP Council (of which £213,000 is expected to come from £213,000 subject to final approval).
Preparatory work is well under way with the appointment of lead designers, planning applications formally submitted, preparatory work in progress and legal and financial commitments being progressed.
The work on site is expected to begin in September 2022, in a phased approach so that the museum will remain open to visitors throughout. On site works should be complete by Summer 2023 followed by a period of monitoring and review. The whole project must be complete by 31 March 2025.
To note, discuss and agree the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum Management Committee Work Programme.
Exclusion of Press and Public
In relation to the items of business appearing below, the Committee is asked to consider the following resolution: -
‘That under Section 100(A)(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraph 3 in Part I of Schedule 12A of the Act and that the public interest in withholding the information outweighs such interest in disclosing the information.’
Update on Progress towards Externalization
In March 2019, the Management Committee agreed that the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum would be best served by moving to full trust status, allowing the museum to better fulfil its long-term strategic and charitable objectives with good governance and financial transparency.
The Committee recognised the complexities of achieving full trust status required further examination before a commitment can be made and that the final decision should lie with BCP Council Cabinet.
At its request, further work has been done by BCP officers, museum staff and external consultants, funded by core budget and ACE CRF Fund to fully develop the business plan.
At their meeting on 8 January 2021, the Management Committee supported a draft proposal for the financial arrangements for an independent charity based on BCP support for transition costs, an initial contribution towards the backlog maintenance issues of the building and a 10 year funding arrangement.
On that basis a business plan has been fully articulated and circulated to Council officers for their input and due diligence for the agreement of the Chief Finance Officer. This business plan continues to be updated and used as the basis for future planning and grant applications.
The Museum governance is complex because the charity was established with the Council as sole trustee and is subject to the Bournemouth Borough Council Act 1985. It has been seeking a view on whether or not, in principle, a change of Trusteeship could be made through the Charity Commission’s normal jurisdiction, but it has now received definitive legal advice that any change of governance would have to be made by a Statutory Instrument through Parliament.
An understanding of the process through DCMS, which would sponsor the Order of Parliament has been initiated. A request has been made to the Charity Commission to understand their view of any change and the process, time and likely cost for consideration by the Committee.
Public consultation on the proposed changes will be initiated as this is a requirement of initial discussions with the Charity Commission.
A draft timeline outlines that the process of externalization may be achieved for 1 October 2023.