The most famous rooms in Australian art, as the Margaret Olley Art Centre (MOAC) in Murwillumbah was described during its opening eight months ago, are living up their reputation.
As a result of the huge popularity of group visits to the new attraction at the Tweed Regional Gallery, a $50 booking fee for commercial coach tours to the centre is set to be introduced.
Thousands of people from all over Australia have visited the gallery and MOAC since the March opening of the $4 million centre by former Governor General Quentin Bryce, making it by far one of the biggest tourist drawcards to the Tweed.
It’s meant staff have sometimes been run off their feet to cater for the large influx of bookings, and extra pressure pout on resources, according to Tweed Shire Council staff.
In their report to councillors last Thursday, they said 12 tour operators had booked 31 tours and brought 1,255 people to the gallery.
Staff recommended the introduction of the booking fee to cover staff time, saying the amount would equate to $1 per passenger visiting the gallery by coach and the tour operator could incorporate the fee into each passenger’s ticket price.
The proposed new booking procedure, staff said, would also provide the option of a visit to the Tweed Regional Museum in town, which was recently given a multi-million-dollar facelift.
Tweed shire councillors last Thursday unanimously approved the new group-booking fee for commercial coach operators and placing the plan on public exhibition for 28 days.
Veteran Cr Warren Polglase, a longtime supporter of the gallery in his role as president of the Tweed Art Gallery Foundation, told councillors more than 100,000 people had visited the gallery last year and the booking fee helped the gallery meet the extra demand.
The Margaret Olley Art Centre was described as ‘the most famous rooms in Australian art’ by former Governor-General Quentin Bryce when she opened it in March.
The MOAC, an extension of the gallery, celebrates the life, legacy and works of one of Australia’s most loved artists.
It includes re-creations of three of the rooms in the late artist’s famous Sydney home, including the Hat Factory and the Yellow Room where she spent many hours painting.
The ex Governor-General also said the Tweed Regional Gallery was ‘one of the best’ regional galleries in Australia.