This week Lismore Regional Gallery received news that the long-awaited redevelopment of their gallery has been funded!
Lismore City Council was successful in its bid to the Federal Government’s National Stronger Regions Fund for $2.85 million to construct the Lismore Quadrangle, featuring a new customised space for Lismore Regional Gallery.
The funding represents half of the project costs—the balance made up from fundraising, other grants, a generous foundation donation (details of which will be announced shortly), and Council’s own contributions.
The project has been a long-time coming with calls to expand the gallery echoing back some 15 years. Currently occupying an old bank building, the premises present both logistical and programming challenges to the operations of the gallery.
Doorways are small, limiting the size of works that can be installed and moved within gallery spaces, and the absence of a loading dock means crates and equipment must be unloaded across the road from the gallery. The walls are unsuitable for many forms of attachments further restricting the size and type of works which can be displayed. With no climate control system in place, the gallery is ineligible for object loans and travelling exhibitions, and the upkeep of the permanent collection absorbs time and money much of which remains in storage for its protection.
Brett Adlington notes that while the building’s limitations are significant, the gallery has developed a strong program of events and exhibitions deeply embedded into the community. Their program is almost entirely self-generated and relates closely to the unique culture of the Northern Rivers, and includes art projects runs in tandem with the well-known Splendour in the Grass music festival; and many workshops and public events taking place within the community rather than inside the gallery.
Adlington said “this model of working will be enhanced by the new development which will provide an opportunity to showcase the products of the program, better resource our emerging artists and their work, and finally display some of the collection items so that visitors and residents can enjoy them”.
Brett Adlington notes that while the building's limitations are significant, the gallery has developed a strong program of events and exhibitions deeply embedded into the community.
He mentions the hard work of many people before him, notably previous Director Steven Alderton who firmly placed the gallery projects on Council’s agenda, and many people in the local community including Jan Davis, Ros Derrett, Andrew Binns and Jyllie Jackson who have all worked solidly at different times to progress this project. Lismore’s Mayor, Cr Jenny Dowell, has also been one of the most visible supporters of the project; while member for Page, Kevin Hogan MP, advocated strongly for this recent funding. Adlington says that without all these people’s vision and commitment the project would not have come to fruition.
The new cultural precinct includes office space for Arts Northern Rivers; event, function and workshop spaces; shared meeting rooms; commercial space for the Co-op Bookshop; and an outdoor plaza connecting the gallery with the Northern Rivers Conservatorium and Lismore Library.
Local architects, Dominic Finlay Jones, have been appointed to design cultural precinct and information about the project can be found on Council’s website.
It is anticipated that work will begin mid-2016 with the gallery initially continuing to trade as normal. Once the new premises are ready to occupy the gallery will briefly close, relocate and open in its brand new space sometime in mid-2017.
Congratulations to everyone involved and especially to the foresight and investment made by Lismore City Council. We’ll be eager to see the project as it unfolds.