The Barns-Graham Trust

Options appraisal to maximise the value and impact of Wilhelmina Barns Graham's legacy Trust

Wilhelmina Barns-Graham (1912-2004) was one of the foremost painters working in St Ives after moving there in 1940. Her paintings, alongside those of her contemporaries (including Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicholson and Naum Gabo) that comprise the St Ives school, contributed greatly to the development of Modernist British painting in the mid to late twentieth century. The Barns-Graham Charitable Trust was established by Wilhelmina in 1987, and came into effect following her death in January 2004. It was created to secure her life’s work and archive for future generations.

The Barns Graham Charitable Trust appointed Iridescence to provide a strategic overview of the Trust and its activities, to evaluate whether or not it was meeting its objectives and to determine a secure financial strategy for the organisation’s future. A key element of the Trust’s work is to provide a range of bursaries, grants and scholarships to assist art and art history students at selected educational institutions and so it was important to look at ways of optimising the assets of the Trust, including Balmungo House where Wilhelmina lived and where the Trust was then based.

Project Objectives:

Assess current activity against charitable objects
Identify the optimum business model for delivery of activities
Consider sale of building asset and relocation of activity

Iridescence provided a detailed critical assessment and suggested a range of options which could help the Trust improve levels of funding. Their review has helped the Trustees determine what is, and what is not, worthwhile to pursue, and where the Trust could be doing things better. Overall, their insights have been very important in saving the trust time and money, and are the foundation on which future decisions are being made.

Geoffrey Bertram, Chair