Hall's Croft, run by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Shakespeare Birthplace Trust to recruit new board of trustees

Rebecca Atkinson, 02.07.2015
Streamlined board aims to be more diverse and effective
The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-upon-Avon has launched a campaign to recruit a new “diverse” board of trustees ahead of formal changes to its governance.

The charity’s board is currently made up of 32 trustees who meet twice a year and delegate responsibility for strategic direction to an elected executive committee of up to eight trustees. The board includes life trustees, ex-officios and representatives of other organisations such as universities and the National Trust.

Under a proposed amendment to its governance, the trust plans to create a board of 12 trustees, who are appointed as individuals, rather than representatives of other organisations, for a three-year tenure. The new board will meet six times a year.

“We want to make sure that our trustees can meet their obligations to the trust, which is difficult if they meet irregularly,” said John Russell, the deputy chairman of the trust’s board of trustees. “It’s also about ensuring decision making is effective and that in our board we have sound representation for all the work the trust does."

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust has developed a proposal to amend its Act of Parliament in 2016, which was approved by the board of trustees in June and will now be presented to the Charity Commission and then to Parliament for approval.

Five trustees, including Russell and the chairman Peter Kyle, will be automatically recruited to the new board to ensure continuity, and existing trustees are also able to apply to continue in their roles.

Kyle said: “It is important that our board of trustees represents the very diverse communities we serve. We would like to hear from people who can offer experience in board-level decision making and leadership, coupled with an understanding of the issues facing the trust now and in the future as well as specific skills in one of the areas we have identified.”   

Although the change to governance is not expected to be completed until next summer, the trust is recruiting new trustees now to work as a shadow board alongside the existing executive committee of trustees. It is looking for trustees with knowledge and experience in Shakespeare scholarship, as well as in collections conservation, fundraising, digital media and finance.

This is the first time the trust has amended its governance for 50 years.