Merimbula’s passing traffic, tourism and access to an airport could benefit a new, expanded art gallery for the Bega Valley.
That’s according to discussions held when NSW arts, resources, energy and utilities minister Don Harwin visited the Bega Valley Regional Gallery on Monday to meet with arts organisations, and soak up the Howard Hinton collection.
“Arts and culture is now a big part of the visitor economy,” Mr Harwin said as he met with council staff, South East Arts representatives and Mayor Kristy McBain.
During the meeting there was talk of moving the gallery from Bega to larger site, as the gallery looks to hold multiple concurrent shows and exhibit larger works of art.
Council general manager Leanne Barnes said a number of sites are available, with Merimbula having certain advantages.
“You can walk off the beach and be in a contemporary gallery in three minutes,” gallery director Iain Dawson said.
Mr Harwin said he would encourage the gallery to work on its proposal for an expanded regional gallery.
“They are doing great work with what they’ve got, but they could achieve great things for local culture and help drive visitors with an expanded or new facility,” he said.
Mr Dawson said an expression of interest is due at the beginning of September, before any application for funding can be made.
“I think it’s great we have the support of the minister in expressing an interest,” he said.
However, Bega MP Andrew Constance said he didn’t want the idea of expanding the gallery to include a theatre space, to avoid a clash with future plans for Merimbula’s Twyford Hall.
“Politically I’m not going to wear competitive tension between this and Twyford [Hall], it’s not fair on the councillors,” he said.
“I guess the main thing is just trying to ascertain exactly what the thinking is in terms of location, and getting that done quickly.
“We’ve got substantial moneys, it is not just the $100million of the cultural fund, it’s about $1.6billion.”