Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell has welcomed federal funding of $2.85 million for the Lismore Quadrangle project, which will see the long-awaited Lismore Regional Gallery become a reality.
Page MP Kevin Hogan yesterday said Lismore City Council would receive the money as one of five major projects in his electorate which have been funded with more than $12.6 million under the Australian government’s National Stronger Regions Fund.
The other projects are the upgrade of the Casino cattleyards ($3.5 million), the Ballina Marine Tower reconstruction ($850,000), roadworks for the Toonumbar Dam (about $1 million), and upgrades for the Harwood Mill and refinery ($4,150,000).
Mayor Dowell said the Lismore Quadrangle project, costing a total of $5.8 million, will include a relocated gallery in the old C Block building as well as a public piazza and new car parking.
She said council’s contribution would be funded by $120,000 from the Lismore Quadrangle Pledge Campaign, $300,000 from the sale of the existing building, $126,800 in other public donations, a $110,000 Arts NSW grant, and $500,000 donated by a private foundation.
Council will fund the remainder with borrowings of up to $1.9 million, and Friends of the Gallery will work to boost fundraising to help minimise council borrowings.
‘This is an absolutely momentous occasion – it was quite overwhelming to receive the news and our heartfelt thanks goes out to Mr Hogan and the Australian government,’ Cr Dowell said.
‘This project will be such a wonderful boost for our CBD and our city as a regional centre for the arts. With the redevelopment of City Hall and now the new gallery, we can offer visitors and residents modern facilities where they will be able to experience world-class theatre and arts. This is a huge step forward for Lismore.’
Gallery director Brett Adlington said it is estimated that the project will boost visitor numbers to the Quadrangle, which includes the Northern Rivers Conservatorium and Lismore Library, to about 300,000 annually, create 27 direct jobs, and expand Lismore’s economy by $1.8 million annually.
‘It is incredibly exciting that after many, many years of working towards this project, the Lismore Quadrangle is set to become a reality,’ Mr Adlington said.
‘It will mean that the old Lismore High School site and the C Block building will become a strong anchor point for the Lismore CBD, with a program of exhibitions and events unable to be presented in the current facility.
‘There will also be a public gathering place, which Lismore CBD has lacked, and this has the potential to become a real feature of the city centre. This is just wonderful, unbelievable, fantastic news for our city!”
Tenders for the project are expected to be called mid next year with work likely to begin in September 2016.