Council will this week be asked to support an application to the state government’s Regional Cultural Fund, to help with an estimated $4 million redevelopment of the Bega Valley Regional Gallery.
While designs have been offered to expand the current Bega gallery, council will be asked during Wednesday’s meeting to support moving the gallery to Merimbula.
Sites at Bega Park, Eden Gateway Centre Land, former council office land in Merimbula, and the former Bega hospital site are also being considered, yet council’s preferred option appears to be to move the gallery to council owned land on Arthur Kaine Dr, just a few minutes walk from the airport.
The site is yet to be developed, and if predictions by Coastal Risk Australia are correct, would be left on the edge of the town by the end of the century, following a projected sea level rise that will leave the current airport under water at Boggy Creek.
Council has listed the site’s geography within the shire, Merimbula’s “strong visitor economy”, and closeness to the airport, accommodation, tourism and recreational activities as reasons for it being preferred, while the meeting agenda says consideration must be given to height restrictions due to its proximity to the airport flight path.
Reasons given for the planned redevelopment include a lack of multiple exhibition space, low ceiling heights, limited storage capacity, a lack of options to create viable income streams, and the current space’s issues with environmental control.
With the gallery tripling its attendance rate over the last four years, the inclusion of a café and gallery shop into designs will help fund the space on an ongoing basis, and any new site must include visitor parking.
Council will apply to the state government for the entire four million dollars, with council’s contribution being the land at Arthur Kaine Dr, valued at $1.2million.
Architectural drawings, cultural heritage assessment and other development application costs would be paid from a recent bequest of $200,000 to the gallery.