Blog by Jacqui Austin, Lead Registrar: Loans, Touring & Partnerships, National Galleries of Scotland

Valentina Sabucco joined ACE in July 2022 after the retiral of the National Security Advisor. Valentina explained that although her job title is different, Manager Security and Protection Advice, her role is exactly the same.

She introduced her background, she studied classics and has worked on the protection of cultural property, UNESCO conventions, and security threats, risks and vulnerability assessments. She has previously delivered training on cultural property protection to the heritage sector.

Valentina shared the Arts Council security and advice team structure. The team is led by Sarah Posey, Director of Cultural Property. The Director and Catherine Higgs, Senior Manager, Cultural Property, work at strategic level to ensure the work of the team aligns with Arts Council Let’s Create Strategy 2020-2030 and Delivery Plan 2021-2024. Valentina’s role sits between the strategic and operational. Valentina is supported by Dawn Somerville, who many of us have worked with over the years, and a team of eight consultants to assist with visits to sites and their security assessments. They are currently Christopher Aldous, Donna Bullock, Nigel Cook, Andy Davis, Peter Gough, Ken Graham, Ian Johnson, and Rick Meyer.

The team have been reviewing the process for receiving and processing security advice requests for loans out and some key changes are below.

Please note that loan security requests should now be addressed to the ‘Manager Security and Protection Advice’ as opposed to the National Security Advisor. In addition, all requests should be submitted to [email protected] as opposed to direct to Valentina’s or Dawn’s email as some of us may have been doing in the past. This helps ensure that a reply is provided even when either Valentina or Dawn are not in office, avoiding registrars to having to forward emails to different mailboxes because of automatic replies. It also helps the ACE team keeping track of the email exchanges had.

Security advice and approval for loans out from national lenders should be sent with as much notice as possible, ideally at least six months before the loan start date.  The team understands that there may be instances where this is not possible due to unexpected changes of circumstances, so short-notice requests can be received as a result. These will be dealt with as soon as possible, however, delays in responses may be experienced based on staff’s availability and capacity.  Requests should also be accompanied by the UKRG Facility Report and Security Supplement and, where applicable, Display Case supplement. These documents must be current and describe the security arrangements that will be in place at the time of the loan.

Consultants tasked by ACE to conduct a site visit will prove their identity by sending an introduction letter signed by the Manager Security and Protection Advice via email before their visit. Whenever venues have their own on-site security team, they should act as first point of contact for any security enquiry about the protection of collections.

These are preliminary guidelines to start exploring the possibility of creating some standard procedures in the way loans out from nationals are shared with ACE. It is ACE’s understanding that no previous guidance has been given in this regard, creating unclarity across the sector on what was the best way to proceed. This process of creating specific guidance will require time and constant exchange of feedback between ACE and the UKRG to ensure that the system adopted is fit for purpose and support both the sector and ACE in the delivery of their services.  Some comments have already been received and are now under consideration. Valentina thanked the UKRG for the kind invite and for the opportunity to start engaging with the UKRG on these topics.

There was also a reminder about what the team cover and what they don’t. They do process requests for security advice for loans out from National institutions. They process security assessments for GIS applications. They provide security advice for capital projects, where loans from nationals or GIS are involved. The team can provide briefings sessions on GIS security requirements to new members of staff, and they answer general security enquires.

They don’t provide security visits for accreditation purposes and don’t provide legal advice.

Security advice requests should go to the general email above however other queries can go to [email protected] or she can be reached on 07920 702 464.

There were a few questions from the audience. It seems like many of us have been operating slightly differently in terms of how and when we provide information for security requests. There were concerns that multiple lenders sending facilities reports via email presented a security risk and that there would be multiple versions of the same report.

There were suggestions that maybe a secure database of approved venues and security facilities, along the lines of the Civil Aviation Authority approval database, would allow registrars to check those directly and there was also a question about whether a standard form for loan security advice would be created to standardise the process.

There were questions about the deadlines for approval for warehouse etc which obviously come at short notice when planning shipments. Understandably, last minute requests cannot be avoided in certain circumstances, however Valentina asked whenever possible to provide as much notice as possible.

I am sure we all look forward to a long and cooperative working relationship with Valentina and I am hoping to invite her to a meeting in Scotland soon where Scottish colleagues can discuss some of the challenges with regards to a different GIS system and remote locations that are unique to us.