Board meeting: March 2021

Minutes from the Board of Trustees meeting on 30 March 2021 on Microsoft Teams.


  • Rene Olivieri, Chair
  • Maria Adebowale-Schwarte, Trustee
  • Kay Andrews, Trustee
  • Jim Dixon, Trustee
  • Claire Feehily, Trustee 
  • Sarah Flannigan, Trustee
  • Perdita Hunt, Trustee
  • Ray Macfarlane, Trustee
  • David Stocker, Trustee
  • Mukesh Sharma, Trustee


  • Susan Beardsmore, Committee Chair, England, Midlands and East
  • Tiffany Hunt, Committee Chair, England, North
  • Stephen Boyce, Committee Chair, England, London and South

External guests

  • Dr. Simon Thurley, NHMF Chair from April 2021
  • Helen Goulden, The Young Foundation (Item 12 - Innovation & the Opportunities for heritage in a post Covid environment)

Welcomes and Introduction

The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting.

Simon Thurley was in attendance ahead of taking up the role of NHMF Chair from 1 April. He was excited to start with The Fund and looked forward to getting to know the organisation.

Stephen Boyce, Interim Chair for the Committee for England, London & South was attending his first meeting as Area Chair.

1. Minutes of the Board meeting on 2 February 2021

The minutes were agreed to be a true account of the meeting and signed by the Chair.

2. Declarations of Interest

There were none.

3. Chair's report and Stakeholder discussion

René Olivieri, Chair, introduced the item. It had been a busy month with a number of decision panels taking place. The quality of projects and assessment had been excellent. The Culture Recovery Fund team in particular were thanked for their hard work on a very complex funding programme.

The Country and Area Chairs provided an update from their countries and areas.

4. CEO Report

Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive, introduced the report.

She added that she had met Caroline Dinenage, the new Minister of State for Digital and Culture.

Ros highlighted the upcoming 40th anniversary of the National Heritage Memorial Fund. Work was continuing to plan for an online live stakeholder event to discuss future priorities for the NHMF and to welcome Dr Simon Thurley, the new Chair. It would also be a good time to announce the proposed allocation of £20m from the CRF contingency to NHMF by DCMS. This would match NHMF’s own commitment of £20m.

The organisation’s first loans programme had taken place the day prior. Eight strong applications had been received, all of which had been approved except one deferral.

Trustees also noted the success of the Digital Skills for Heritage Panel, noting this was now a key area of work and that more should be done in this area.

Eilish McGuinness, Executive Director of Business Delivery, updated the Board on the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage. The team had worked hard on a very complex programme of work. £10million of a large underspend had been used by topping up reserves of successful applicants. CRF3 would launch in the coming months. This would help to provide further funds for existing grantees and also help other organisations in immediate need.

5. Ratification of Investment Budgets

Colin Bailey reported that Robin Seedhouse would be retiring as Head of Finance in July, and Aruna Seth had been appointed to replace him. They would be working in parallel until July to cover the year end programme.

The Board approved the Investment Budgets for 2021-22. 

6. Ratification of Administration Budgets

The Board approved the Administration budgets for 2021-22. 

7. Audit & Risk Committee Feedback

Claire Feehily provided feedback on the Audit and Risk Committee meeting in February.

8. Risk Appetite and Review

The Board approved the Risk Appetite.

The Chair thanked Sarah Flannigan for the support she had provided throughout the IMS project.

9. Minutes of Nominations and Remuneration Committee on 2 February 2021

The minutes were noted.

10. Business Plan and priorities 2021 - 2022

Business Plan

The Business Plan would be published at the end of April and shared with DCMS.

Funding Priorities for 2021-22 and National Lottery Grants for Heritage 2021-22     

The Board noted that funding priorities for 2021-22 were in five main areas:

  • Grant Giving – National Lottery re-opening and GIA programmes and follow on
  • Investment Management System (IMS)
  • Stakeholder and external partners
  • Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI)
  • Culture change including Behaviour, Recruitment and Performance Frameworks

The Board approved the Business Plan and Funding Priorities.

11. Reflections on the future of heritage     

René Olivieri gave a presentation on his time at The National Lottery Heritage Fund and his reflections on the future of heritage. René reflected on his three years at The Fund, including one year as Chair, delivering a new vision for the organisation after the tailored review. Over the past year, the organisation had adapted better than most to new ways of working during the pandemic.

Perdita Hunt thanked René on behalf of the Board for his excellent presentation and insightful thoughts.

Trustees reflected on their time working with René, noting his ambition for The Fund, always thinking of more agile and effective ways of working.

12. Innovation & the Opportunities for heritage in a post Covid environment: early   insights  

The item was presented by Isabel Hunt, Executive Director of Business Innovation and Insight, and Alexandra Roberts, Head of Innovation and New Business. Helen Goulden, CEO of the Young Foundation, was in attendance to present an update on emerging insights.

The Board would be updated in around six months’ time with a series of recommendations from the discovery work.

13. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) review recommendations

Andrew White, Country Director Wales, presented an update on the EDI review.

Board and Committees were still less diverse than the wider sector and The Fund were working to address this. The workforce was also not representative and it was important that the organised addressed barriers to entry and improved training around EDI. The new performance management framework would help embed The Fund’s behaviours framework.

The Fund’s public commitment to do more would be taken forward through the Senior Partnership Group EDI workstream. An update would be provided at September’s Board meeting.

The Trustees commended the clear, concise, well thought-through report and the good work carried out so far.

Ros Kerslake commended the taskforce for a great report and thanked everyone who had worked on it. It would be a framework for how the organisation takes this work forward and to identify what needs to be done.

The Board approved the request for an annual review, retention of the taskforce and further guidance on our approach to implementation in the next year.

Funding decisions: National Heritage Memorial Fund                                                                  

14. NHMF Report                                                                            

Vanessa Wells, Head of NHMF, presented the NHMF report. She advised that we now had confirmation from DCMS of our CRF contingency allocation: £16million had been paid so far and a further £4million would follow in the next financial year.

The NHMF 40th anniversary commemoration would tie in with this in late May.

Vanessa highlighted that since the NHMF panel met earlier in the month, one additional new case had been submitted by the Imperial War Museum - Acquisition of Tipperary (1914) by Walter Sickert. The painting needed to be purchased by the end of April. The case would be circulated for a decision between meetings in the week commencing 12 April.

15. The Hepworth Wakefield: Acquisition of Ben Nicholson's seminal work Quai d’Auteuil - Paris, 1935

Request: £1,495,000 (64%)

Project: To acquire Quai d'Auteuil, a work by Ben Nicholson which is one of a series of white reliefs named for a street in Paris and is considered to be the most important work in the series. The painting was subject to an urgent probate deadline following the death of Nicholson’s daughter. It had been valued at £6million, with a hybrid element of £2.3million remaining. The Hepworth had been unable to mount a public fundraising campaign owing to the impact of a loss of staff due to Covid.

The Board awarded a grant of £1,495,000 (64%)

Funding decisions: National Lottery Heritage Fund (grant increase)

16. Courtauld Institute of Art: Courtauld Connects         

Request: Grant increase of £1,500,000 to make a total grant of £10,350,000.

Project: To conserve, repair and refurbish a Grade I listed building, improve public access and circulation, and improve and increase display space at the Courtauld. The project would also include the creation of a new learning centre and a programme of activities, and would re-display collections with new interpretation, signage and display cases.

A delivery grant of £8,850,000 (26%) had been awarded in March 2018.

The project was underway when the pandemic started. Costs had increased due to Covid-related delays and discoveries. Losses during the pandemic had meant that the Courtauld was unable to meet these costs.

Eilish McGuinness highlighted that the Courtauld had received £3million from Arts Council England’s Culture Recovery Fund: Repayable Finance programme but additional funds were needed.

The Board awarded a grant increase of £1,500,000 to make a total grant of £10,350,000.

17. Any other business

An update was provided on Trustee reappointments. Claire Feehily had been reappointed on an interim basis for six months but it was hoped that her reappointment would be made soon. David Stocker and Maria Adebowale-Schwarte were also waiting for their reappointments as their terms would end in May. Sarah Flannigan would be leaving after the May Board meeting.

René Olivieri expressed his huge thanks to Perdita Hunt who would be finishing her term as Trustee on 16 April. She had been a fantastic, committed Trustee who had sat on many panels, a number of committees and most recently had been the Senior Independent Trustee. The other Trustees echoed René’s sentiments.

Ros Kerslake thanked René Olivieri for his work and commitment as Chair during such a challenging year. He had been a great advocate and a good friend to many people at The Fund. Trustees also expressed their thanks to Rene for his excellent chairmanship and friendship.

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