A pledge from Newcastle Council on the planned expansion of the Newcastle Art Gallery is tipped to boost investor confidence in the project.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Council and the Newcastle Art Gallery Foundation will be considered at tonight’s meeting, and outlines the organisations’ shared commitment to the expansion project and the future of the cultural landmark.
Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the MoU was another milestone on the road towards the $35.6 million expansion of the Gallery, which would double its size and allow significantly more of its collection to be displayed to the public each year.
Council is set to invest $12.6 million in the project, while the Foundation will chip in $10 million and fundraise for an additional $2.5 million.
But with the Commonwealth Government still considering a $10 million dollar grant for the project from its Recovering Regions program, which would allow the expansion to immediately commence, and the Foundation needing to raise the additional $2.5 million, the MoU is a strong signal to potential donors the expansion is a safe bet.
“As this revised Memorandum of Understanding affirms, we will continue to work together to ensure our shared dream for the Gallery becomes a reality,” Cr Nelmes said.
Members of the Foundation’s Board unanimously endorsed the revised MoU at a meeting last week, and Cr Nelmes said she hoped this would be followed by a similar show of unanimous support from Councillors this evening.
“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,” Cr Nelmes said.
The expansion project is set to provide an extra 1,600 square meters of exhibition space for those works 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.
Newcastle Art Gallery Foundation Chair Suzie Galwey said the pact with Council will underpin further fundraising efforts by providing certainty and assurance to potential donors.
“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,” Ms Galwey said.
The MoU also recognises the historical and cultural importance of the Gallery as one of the most valuable art collections in regional Australia, which presents a comprehensive overview of Australian art from colonial times to the present day, worth $115 million.
It represents one of the strongest arguments in favour of supporting and protecting the Gallery for future generations.