Russell Cotes Art Gallery and Museum Management Committee - Friday, 22nd October, 2021 2.00 pm

Venue: Committee Suite, Civic Centre, Poole BH15 2RU. View directions

Contact: Nicky Hooley on 01202 096660  Email:

No. Item


Election of Chairman of the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum Management Committee

To elect a Chairman of the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum Management Committee, who will preside until the first meeting of the next municipal year.


Election of Vice Chairman of the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum Management Committee

To elect a Vice Chairman of the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum Management Committee, until the first meeting of the next municipal year.




To receive any apologies for absence from Councillors or 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.


Confirmation of Minutes pdf icon PDF 138 KB

To confirm and sign as a correct record the minutes of the Meeting held on 8 January 2021.


Public Issues

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.


Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum Update Report 1 December 2020 – 31 September 2021 pdf icon PDF 248 KB

This report provides an update on the activities of the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum from December 2020 – September 2021 including the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Operating restrictions have impacted, with a reopening in December 2020 and then closure again from 31 December to May 2021, with the partial reopening of the shop and outside café in April.

This has had an inevitable impact on visitor numbers, income and activities.  However, visitor numbers have recovered gradually to reach pre-pandemic levels by August 2021 and income targets for admissions and secondary spend are being met currently.

Exhibitions, programming and engagement are coming back on track as restrictions lift. The new Century of British Art exhibition commemorating the centenary of the Bournemouth Arts Club (BAC) has opened. Plans are underway for a range of activities and events to mark the Russell-Cotes centenary in 2022.

The receipt of £226,000 from the Arts Council England (ACE) Cultural Recovery Fund (CRF) has supported the Museum due to the loss of visitor income which it needs for core funding. It has enabled significant investment into the financial sustainability of the Museum (outdoor catering, improved signage, new integrated till systems with online capability and marketing support) which has delivered demonstrable benefits already. 

It has also provided funding for the ongoing review of governance and the progress towards externalisation.  Notably it has supported professional and consultancy fees associated with developing the business model and understanding the liabilities around the building and exploring the complex legal position of the Museum’s governance with the Charity Commission.

The Museum has passed the Expression of Interest stage for the ACE Museum Estate and Development MEND Fund and with a very short time frame is applying for a significant contribution (£518,000) to improve the Museum’s fabric and services – notably the conservatory, water ingress issues, drainage and a new air handling system with match funding (£426,000) from BCP Council (subject to Council approval) and £30,000 from the Conservatory Fund. If successful, this capital project would commence in April 2022.

The Russell-Cotes is considering applying for National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) status and funding in 2022 for the period 2023-27.



Update on Progress towards Externalisation pdf icon PDF 37 KB

In March 2019, the Management Committee agreed subject to a full business case, 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 Council officers, museum staff and external consultants, funded by core budget and ACE CRF Fund to fully develop the business plan.


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 Council 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.



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 is not clear whether governance changes can be made by the Charity Commission under its normal jurisdiction or whether changes will require a Statutory Instrument.

On the advice of specialist lawyers, Bates Wells the Management Committee agreed that the best option was for a new sole corporate trustee of the existing charity which would essentially slip into the shoes of the Council. Bates Wells submitted a request to the Charity Commission in March asking if they would be minded to grant such a Scheme.

There has been an ongoing exchange of views with the Charity Commission which has said that the decision is finely balanced. The recommendation of Bates Wells is that the Management Committee seeks further independent and specialist legal support to push home the legal argument, supported with evidence of the benefits of externalization and of stakeholder and public support.


Approval of allocation of funds generated for the restoration of the Russell-Cotes Conservatory to the ACE MEND 'Repair and Renewal' Project pdf icon PDF 278 KB

The conservatory of the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum, which is a Grade 2* listed building, is in desperate need of repair and renewal and at the point of collapse.  The cost of repair has been estimated at c. £120,000 plus fees. Plans were made in 2011 to repair the conservatory but the Council was unable to afford the cost and the work was never done.

From 2015, the Museum has been raising funds specifically to fund the repair and renewal of the Conservatory and been identifying additional sources of funds that could enable the work to be undertaken.

These funds have been held in a restricted fund for the purpose of restoring the conservatory and now amount to £29,953.

Arts Council England (ACE) has established a new grant fund in June 2021 – the MEND fund – specifically to address the backlog of urgent repairs needed in the Museum sector.   Russell-Cotes has applied for £974,000 of work, has passed the EOI stage and is making a formal application on 18 October.

Its application includes the complete restoration of the Conservatory and it has identified £30,000 as necessary match funding from the restricted Conservatory fund to support the project (as well as £426,000 from BCP Council (subject to Cabinet approval).

The outcome of the application to the ACE MEND fund will be heard in Feb 2022 and work will start by 25 April 2022 for completion by 31 March 2025.



Approval of Museum Policies Required for Accreditation pdf icon PDF 128 KB

This report recommends the adoption of 5 plans and policies governing the operation of the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum: Forward Plan, Collections Development Strategy, Documentation Policy and Plan, Collections Care and Conservation Policy and Access Policy.

Under the Arts Council England (ACE) Museums Accreditation scheme these policies and plans require adoption by the Museum’s Governing Body.

The Accreditation Scheme is the methodology by which Arts Council England maintains and regulates professional standards across the museum sector and its successful retention is therefore critical to its on-going operation.


Additional documents:


Acquisitions, Loans and Disposals Report pdf icon PDF 128 KB

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.

Additional documents:


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.’


The draft annual report and statement of accounts

To ask questions & agree in principle the draft annual report and statement of accounts.

Any questions will need to be submitted to Finance in writing, for consideration and will be addressed before the final version is submitted for signing.