Agenda item

Barbican Centre Board: Review of Composition and Terms of Reference

Report of the Town Clerk. (TO FOLLOW)


The Board considered a report of the Town Clerk concerning a review of the composition and Terms of Reference for the Barbican Centre Board. The following comments were made:


·         The Chair gave context for the report, the aim of which was to make the Board the best it could possibly be and resolve any unclarity within the terms of reference. This would work alongside the recommendations of Lord Lisvane’s Governance Review, open up conversations and dovetail into the wider review work to come.


·         A Member did not feel that the City Corporation representation should be in the majority which would align better with other arts organisations. It was noted that this had been discussed previously for this Board and other City Corporation arts and culture Boards and the decision by Court had always been that Court Members should be the majority.


·         Another Member added that it was conceivable to move away from a majority of Court Members; however, the Centre would need to accept that the City Corporation was no longer the “bank of last resort”. Members agreed that there was a trade off between the benefits and disadvantages and it was acknowledged that the Corporation would be put in a very difficult position if there were financial difficulties in the future. Members ultimately agreed that without a clear alternative strong source of funding available to replace the City Corporation, the Court Members should keep its majority.


·         It was accepted that the report was not asking for a loss of City Corporation control, it was advocating for membership with artistic experience. It was agreed that the Board’s membership needed relevant expertise and increasing the number of external members would achieve this. 


·         A Member felt that more time was needed for Members to consider the profound implications of the report and Lisvane’s recommendations, both of which Members only received yesterday and may make the recommendations irrelevant. The Chair disagreed arguing that it could take up to 2022 before changes were made based on Lord Lisvane’s recommendations.


·         With regards to terms, a Member thought it was very important to strictly limit terms in order that all Board Members provide their expertise and not rejoin when the term ended allowing new people to come through and increase diversity of voices and appropriate refreshing of board expertise.


·         This was supported by another Member who advocated for a representative Board and diversity of leadership and a succession process was recommended.


·         Members discussed the proposal to introduce Board placements, the uncontentious overlap with the Education Board and the possibility for the Board to add two more external Members. Members supported the recommendations within the report and the Town Clerk confirmed a report would need to go the P&R to approve these changes to the Board’s terms of reference.


·         Members heavily debated the issue of term limits. Whilst all agreed clarity was required to avoid ambiguity, not all Members agreed with a flat ban on Members rejoining the Board after 9-years continuous service. It was acknowledged that there was a difference between ex officio Members from a committee such as the Finance Committee which could be represented by anyone on the Committee or a Chairman of a culture Committee with shared interests that would benefit from being on the Board. 


·         For clarity, it was ultimately agreed that there should be a hard 9-year term limit for all Members with the exception of incumbent Chairmen and Deputies so as to not cut them off during their term if impacted by the 9-year rule. Members agreed to grant the Chair and Deputy Chairman delegated authority with the Town Clerk to take forward the recommendations within the report.


RESOLVED – That Members consider:-


·         An alteration to the composition of the Board, to allow for additional external expertise to be utilised (see paras 6-18);


·         Recommendations to clarify the application of term limits (see paras 19-28);


·         The introduction of “Board Placement” roles (see paras 29-39);


·         A clarification in respect of the Board’s Terms of Reference (paras 40-46);


·         To recommend to the Policy and Resources Committee and Court of Common Council accordingly.

Supporting documents: