By Sean Meyer/London Community News/Twitter: Newswriter22
Even in a place like Museum London that is typically spotless, a little housekeeping is sometimes needed.
During the Investment and Economic Prosperity Committee meeting on Tuesday (Sept. 11), a little clean up was done around revision of the London Regional Art and Historical Museums Act, or as it will soon be known, the Museum London bylaw. The members voted to accept the plan of museum officials to update its legislation, which was originally passed in 1989.
One of the major renovations to the museum’s operation was around the make up of the board of directors. This included removal of the seat of the London Historical Museums Association, which ceased operation in 1995, and the London and Middlesex Historical Society that asked to have a non-voting advisory role.
Another reason for the housekeeping changes concerned problems the board had with reaching quorum for its meetings. With that in mind, the board was reduced in size from 21 members to 15.
The meeting on Tuesday was a public meeting where the only speaker was Ben Benedict, a London visual artist. Benedict said he questioned the make up of the board, suggesting 11 members might be more workable, but also he said there should be a more public process involved in the selection of the members who would sit on the board.
“Membership should be better defined. Either you have a broad membership base or have a far more open and transparent process of how people become committee members,” Benedict said. “There is no public process involved in that and I think that is a real concern when you are talking about $1.6 million in public money.”
Benedict also said there is no real mandate for Museum London, or any other art institution, to become leaders or engaged within their sectors. “I think our community leaders need to have some structure and this doesn’t really do that.”
Brian Meehan, executive director and chief curator of Museum London, said there was a problem around reaching quorum. However, Meehan said he could only recall one instance where meetings failed to reach quorum.
The board reached the decision around the number of members, Meehan said, using a community consultation process. This process included sharing the information through the museum’s website, the London Arts Council website, and the museum’s e-newsletter, which has close to 3,000 addresses.
Mayor Joe Fontana questioned how moving from 21 board members to 15 would help the museum solve its problems. Meehan said while there is some debate around what constitutes the best design for any board, it is believed 15 is the right number for Museum London.
“The reason for going smaller, there are lots of theories. It was felt that besides getting rid of the seats that were no longer active, that a smaller board would be a more committed board,” Meehan said. “At some point you get to a size where it is easy for people to be on a board, but not actively participate. There were long discussions around the optimum size.”
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