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Goodison, Nicholas (8 of 46) National Life Stories: City Lives
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TSB offices, London
Goodison, Nicholas (speaker, male)
Courtney, Cathy, 1954- (speaker, female)
Part 8 (tape 4 side B): This part deals with the lecture and his main thesis that current funding of museums unsatisfactory – lists many different sources of funding, refers to local authority funding obligations, squeeze on funding by the Treasury. Voices his belief that core collections should be funded by the State, as well as the educational activities connected to them. To achieve this, costs of core collections must be worked out – says to date this has never been done or, at least, not published. Says British Museum made an attempt when it commissioned the Edwards Report – NG thought the report devastating and thinks other galleries and museums should follow suit. Says there should be long-term funding agreements by the State based on the costs of collections to prevent what NG sees as a steady deterioration – suggests pooling resources in certain circumstances. Also dwelt lengthily, in the lecture, on the need for good management; acknowledges that museum curators not really experienced in management, being scholars not business people; quotes similar situation in schools where head teachers now responsible for budgets and personnel politics. Talks about the problems at the Victoria & Albert Museum funded through Department of Culture; great national museum; about its origins in 19th century, its acquisitions, now the prime museum of decorative arts in the country, perhaps even the world. Talks about the building itself and the difficulties facing successive directors: cuts in budgets for example. His opinion of what would be the ideal director. Compares the various qualities of various recent directors, and from his personal knowledge of Elizabeth Esteve-Coll says why he thinks she was not a popular choice in the museum world. Talks about Dr Roy Strong, his personality et cetera. About the Imperial War Museum and its success due to good management. NG says he is not in favour of compulsory entrance charges to national collections – gives reasons. Thinks the most important visitor is the ‘drop-in’ kind and charging deters this type. Not optimistic that the State will help – gives reasons. Also says Culture Minister has no power and is at the mercy of the Treasury on funding – mentions his meeting and discussion with Chris Smith (current Minister of Culture). Says he has offered to help in costs assessments in the current review of museum funding. Vis-à-vis quality assessment, he refers to the scheme devised by TSB whereby schools can assess themselves – 250 schools have received questionnaires on personnel management etc and someone from TSB to help answer questions about appraisal systems and what they consist of; says all part of the TSB ‘thrust’ which he instigated when he became Chairman, about training school governors and so on. Says he has offered a similar scheme to Minister of Culture which would apply to museums. NG now Honorary Keeper of Furniture at the Fitzwilliam and Chairman of Courtauld Institute, which also runs Courtauld galleries; says in the latter case if it applied for funding, he could not take part in any discussion of the funding committee. Difficult for him to act as a trustee and also as chairman of the funding committee. Returns to talking about Brinsley Ford and about meeting Bobby Gore, about Anthony Hornby, a stockbroker and collector of French Impressionist paintings, and says he realised he was being assessed by these men. About Brinsley Ford’s invitation to him to join board of Burlington Magazine – deeply honoured, wonderful magazine; describes its contents. At that time a subsidiary of Thomson newspapers, believes it was rescued by Thomson because of the latter’s interest in the arts. NG was editorial director and Brinsley was chairman of directors; how they raised money to take the magazine out of the sphere of Thomson Organisation. It is now a charity and gets donations from people who believe in the value of the arts – they want to make certain that the Burlington will be published in perpetuity. Thinks they have done well in raising enough money to ensure its independence and the purchase of an office building. Says donors contributing more than $50,000 become Benefactors. He hopes to raise another £100,000 or so. Says Burlington Magazine maintains its reputation as leading journal in the world in the history of Western art. Refers here to great names serving on committee and quotes Brinsley Ford’s invitation letter to him and the P.S. attached."
Interview with Sir Nicholas Goodison, Chairman of the Stock Exchange (1976–1988) the TSB Group (1989–1995), the Courtauld Institute of Art, (1982–2002), the National Art Collections Fund (1986–2002), and National Life Stories (2003–).