Born in Scotland: Dolly the sheep at National Museums Scotland

MGS members approve governance changes

Rebecca Atkinson, 22.05.2012
Vote paves the way for MGS to become national development body
Museums Galleries Scotland's (MGS) move to become a national development body was approved by its members today in a reconvened vote over proposed constitutional and governance changes.

The vote means MGS will become an independent charitable trust supported by the Scottish government. As such, it will deliver the country’s new national strategy and other resources on a subscription basis.

MGS was forced to abandon a vote on its new constitution at its AGM last month after member museums raised objections to planned changes.

According to those who attended the meeting, members raised several objections to the proposed changes, including tiered subscription rates for different types of organisation. Concerns were also raised about the new governance structure, which will consist of a board of directors appointed by a nomination panel rather than elected by members.

But at the reconvened meeting today a vote to change the body’s constitution was approved by 82%.

Fiona Ballantyne, chair of MGS, said: “What became evident during April’s general meeting were concerns within the sector over the pace of change alongside calls for further information to consider the proposals.

"The ensuing weeks of intensive dialogue allowed us to make clear the continuation of MGS’s sole purpose, which is to work in the best interests of the museums and galleries sector in Scotland."

She added: “There is much work to be done and we will be looking at the issues that the sector has raised in the past weeks. However, the vote today means that we can move things forward together.”

MGS will now work with museums and galleries to develop the national strategy delivery plan through a series of sector roadshows to take place over the summer. The process to recruit board members under the new governance structure will also start, with details expected in the coming weeks.

Rowan Brown, director of the National Mining Museum Scotland and a Museums Association (MA) board member, welcomed the fact a consensus had been reached.

“It has been a difficult process and there have been lessons learnt,” she added. “I wish MGS success and look forward to consulting with it on its policy and the delivery of the national strategy. The fact that this process has instigated discussion across the sector is a positive thing and stands us in good stead for the future.”

Mark Taylor, director of the MA, said: “It’s good that a breakthrough has been made because there was clearly no plan B. What is important now isn’t structures but that the strategy is implemented as soon as possible with as much transparency as possible.”


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MA Member
30.05.2012, 11:00
Mark Taylor is quite right, what is important now is that the strategy is implemented as soon as possible with as much transparency as possible. But to do that requires the trust and engagement of museum professionals and representative bodies, and sadly the last few weeks of tussling over subscription and constitution have shown there is a long way to go on this. The sector is supposed to not like the pace of change, but as far as I can see, the sector was crying out for change during the consultation on the national strategy, and that it is MGS that has yet to change. It would move things on hugely if a report of the consultation could now be published and if MGS could set out exactly how it intends to oil the wheels of change through its funding to the sector, so people can start to generate project and partnership ideas that will implement the strategy.