Labor has thrown its support behind the Bega Valley Regional Gallery (BVRG) and the Old Bega Hospital, promising millions of dollars in funding for the institutions if it wins the state election.
The party’s candidate for Bega Leanne Atkinson said if she was elected under a Labor government she would provide $3.4million for the gallery’s redevelopment plans as well as $500,000 to rebuild the roof on the old hospital.
The funding would come from savings made by cancelling the current plans to relocate the Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta, estimated to cost $1.17billion.
Making the announcement on Monday, January 21, Ms Atkinson said the investment would enable the BVRG to continue to grow as a tourist drawcard and enable it to be able to host world-class art exhibitions.
“Currently while we have a wonderful gallery we are limited in what we can see by virtue of the physical limitations of the building,” she said.
BVRG director Iain Dawson said the gallery remained focused on progressing the redevelopment project as soon as funding became available.
“An announcement supporting regional arts and culture infrastructure from either side of government is welcome,” he said.
“This provides good momentum for the launch of our philanthropy campaign in the coming months.”
Ms Atkinson said the Old Bega Hospital was also a “really important institution” to many in the community.
“It needs to be valued and protected,” she said.
Member of the Old Bega Hospital Reserve Land Manager board Richard Bomford thanked Ms Atkinson and her team for the “very welcome” offer of funding, but said “it only goes so far”.
“It’s still going to be very difficult for us because half a million will get us a roof, but it doesn’t get us a building we can occupy; to get a building we can occupy we will need $3million,” he said.
After Ms Atkinson made her announcement, Member for Bega Andrew Constance said the NSW Liberals had spent millions on arts in the region including $7.4million for Twyford Hall Theatre, $17,000 for the Spiral Galley, $70,000 for the Murrah Hall, $150,000 towards Four Winds, $55,000 towards the Bega Valley Regional Galley and $99,000 for Fling Physical Theatre.
“The Old Bega Hospital trust already has the funds for the roof and the regional gallery redevelopment can be considered in a future funding round,” he said.
“We have funded the largest cultural and arts program in the Bega electorate in its history.”
Applying to the NSW government’s Regional Cultural Fund last year, the BVRG requested $3.4million for redevelopment works while the Old Bega Hospital asked for $2.4million to begin its restoration, but in December it was announced both applications were unsuccessful.
“The cultural centre and the regional gallery compliment each one another and for too long money for cultural activities has been scarce to access,” president of the Bega branch of the ALP Liz Seckold said on Monday.