Council releases funds to finalise Bendigo Art Gallery designs

Greater Bendigo City Council will release $600,000 to progress its number one priority project, the Bendigo Art Gallery expansion, to finalise designs and ensure it is investment-ready.

The $600,000 will come out of Council’s previous commitment of $3M, which was made in October 2021. Bendigo Art Gallery Board will also match this commitment and contribute $600,000 to help complete the detailed design phase of the project.

The expansion will deliver a world-class learning centre for students, second-level blockbuster exhibition space, Traditional Owner Place of Keeping for Dja Dja Wurrung artefacts, expanded access to free and collection-based exhibitions, redeveloped restaurant with a City of Gastronomy offering, expanded commercial opportunities including pop-up blockbuster exhibition shop, and accessible amenities and expanded public spaces.

Mayor Cr Andrea Metcalf said the Victoria 2026 Commonwealth Games had made the need to attract funding for the project more urgent.

“We cannot have our most significant tourism drawcard closed and wrapped in scaffolding when Bendigo takes its turn on the world’s sporting stage,” Cr Metcalf said.

“By Council and the Gallery Board committing these funds, we will be in a position to finalise the designs and ensure the project is investment-ready leading up to the State election in November and next year’s State and Federal Budgets.

“We will need to secure funds by June 30, 2023 or otherwise pause the project. We believe the Gallery can have a significant role in the Commonwealth Games as a cultural hub for the event, featuring international exhibitions, events, film screenings and a major education program, so we want to ensure the project is complete to enable this.”

The City has previously received $560,000 from the Victorian Government to appoint architects and consultants to prepare the project to Planning Application stage.

To inform the design work, early community engagement has already taken place with Traditional Owners, education and disability groups.

Bendigo Art Gallery Director Jessica Bridgfoot said the recent success of the Elvis: Direct from Graceland exhibition reinforced the need for expansion.

“The exhibition was a great financial success for the Gallery and local economy. A larger space will allow for more exhibitions of this scale and also deliver a great community-focused outcome, particularly for students and Traditional Owners,” Ms Bridgfoot said.

“Strong advocacy to State and Federal governments has taken place and will continue to ensure we do not miss this window of opportunity to attract funds and complete the project in time for the Commonwealth Games.”

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