City of Newcastle Councillors have agreed a shared commitment to the Newcastle Art Gallery expansion project with the Newcastle Art Gallery Foundation.
Agreeing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the long-planned expansion of the cultural landmark as of last week, the latest funding is a significant milestone towards the $35.6 million expansion of the Gallery, which will see it more than double in size and allow for much more of its collection to be displayed to the public each year.
Newcastle Art Gallery was Australia’s first purpose-built regional art gallery, officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1977. Its collection of over 7,000 artworks is valued in excess of $115 million, and yet less than 1% can only be exhibited over the course of a year.
Under consideration for a decade and a half, the expansion project has had several false starts.
A design competition for an all new gallery in 2005/06 did not proceed while the City Council’s withdrawal from a 2012/13 redevelopment saw $7 million received from Federal Government’s Regional Development Australia Fund returned.
With the Council now backing the redevelopment, Newcastle Lord Mayor, Nuatali Nelmes advised last week “since being established in 1977, the Newcastle Art Gallery Foundation has played a valuable role in supporting the Gallery and the growth of its collection, having contributed to the acquisition of more than 335 art works.
“Its members are passionate about the future of the Gallery and are dedicated to increasing access to the 7,000 works it holds.
“City of Newcastle’s planned expansion project will achieve this aim, providing an additional 1,600 metre² of exhibition space including dedicated areas for the Gallery’s collection on the lower level, while the upper level will cater for a variety of travelling exhibitions, including international shows.
“City of Newcastle has committed a further to $12.6 million towards the project, while the Foundation has pledged $10 million. The MoU also includes a commitment by the Foundation to raise an additional $2.5 million through fundraising towards the expansion of the Gallery.
“As this revised Memorandum of Understanding affirms, we will continue to work together to ensure our shared dream for the Gallery becomes a reality.”
The MoU recognises the historical and cultural importance of the Gallery as custodian of the most valuable art collection in regional Australia, which presents a comprehensive overview of Australian art from colonial times to the present day and is worth $115 million.
It also acknowledges the work undertaken by City of Newcastle and the Foundation to preserve and promote the Gallery and reaffirms the Foundation’s commitment to support and protect it for the enjoyment of future generations.
Newcastle Art Gallery Foundation Chair Suzie Galwey said the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with City of Newcastle will underpin further efforts to support the Gallery’s expansion.
Galwey stated “the Foundation is proud to contribute $10 million to the gallery expansion, made possible through generous contributions from the community and supporters over many years
“The MoU between the City of Newcastle and the Foundation also provides certainty and assurance to future donors before committing contributions to the project.
“The MoU outlines how the major funding partners will work together, as well as the Foundation’s aspiration to raise an additional $2.5 million. By aligning this target with the City’s commitment, the Foundation is in a strong position to approach existing and new donors to secure the remaining funds needed to complete the expanded gallery.
“The MoU with the City will both guide and bolster our ongoing efforts to demonstrate how important Newcastle Art Gallery is to the community.”
The City of Newcastle is currently awaiting a determination from the Federal Government in regard to an application for $10 million in funding towards the project from its Recovering Regions program, which would allow the expansion to immediately commence.
Applications for funding for the project from the NSW Government have been rejected.
Images: Concepts for the Newcastle Art Gallery expansion.
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