Newcastle lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes says Newcastle Art Gallery’s inclusion in a new state government cultural strategy is a “crucial step forward” for the project.
The government’s Cultural Infrastructure Plan 2025 was uploaded to the Create NSW website on Thursday without a public announcement.
It says supporting “Newcastle’s growth as a major metropolitan area, including redevelopment of the Newcastle Regional Art Gallery precinct” is a regional “opportunity”.
The plan’s wording is far from a funding commitment, but Cr Nelmes said it suggested Cabinet had endorsed the project’s importance.
“The release of the Cultural Infrastructure Plan 2025 specifically identifies the expansion of Newcastle Art Gallery as a catalyst project that will benefit the growth of the city of Newcastle as the global gateway to the greater Newcastle metropolitan area,” she said.
“With NSW Cabinet endorsement of the importance of the project, I look forward to sharing our updated business case with the Minister for the Arts in the coming months.”
Cr Nelmes and Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorp announced last month that Labor would commit $14 million to the gallery expansion if it won the state election in March.
Mr Crakanthorp made an identical commitment before the 2015 election, which Labor lost.
The Create NSW website does not list the gallery expansion as one of its “priority projects”, which are Sydney Opera House upgrades ($228 million), the transformation of the Art Gallery of NSW ($244 million), Riverside Theatres improvements at Parramatta, the Powerhouse Museum move to Parramatta ($645 million), the Walsh Bay Arts Precinct ($207 million), and the Regional Cultural Fund ($100 million), for which Newcastle is not eligible.
But the Newcastle gallery is one of few specific projects in the cultural plan’s region-by-region summary, which more often tends towards vague generalities.
The City of Newcastle is updating a business case for the project with help from a gallery expansion working party it formed last year. The project was costed at about $30 million two years ago.
The expansion has been the subject of bitter debate for more than a decade, especially during the 2012-2014 reign of former lord mayor Jeff McCloy, when the city was forced to hand back a $7 million federal grant after failing to secure state funding.
A new gallery would include more exhibition and storage space, a secure loading dock and a cafe. The gallery exhibits only about two per cent of the 6400 works in its collection each year.
Deeper reading: NSW election 2019
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- Salamander Bay fire station hours to extend if we win election: Labor (January 25, 2019)
- Greens NSW election candidate for Wallsend Sinead Francis-Coan calls for fellow candidates to take Safe State pledge against domestic violence (January 25, 2019)
- Labor pledges to bring back ministers for Hunter, Illawarra and other regional areas (January 23, 2019)
- Objectors say Environment Ministers approval of Wallarah coal mine will cost key seat (January 21, 2019)
- Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair says only 'very brave person' would remove shark nets despite drum-line trial (January 21, 2019)
- Newcastle Art Gallery expansion project grows beyond $40m as Tim Crakanthorp revives Labor funding commitment (January 21, 2019)
- Liberals' Scot MacDonald out of running for Newcastle, Maitland (January 21, 2019)
- Long road ahead for Nelson Bay despite Gladys Berejiklian funding commitment (January 20, 2019)
- Labor lines up Cessnock deputy mayor Melanie Dagg to replace Martin Rush as Upper Hunter candidate (January 19, 2019)
- Greens announce candidates for Newcastle and Wallsend (January 17, 2019)
- Premier Gladys Berejiklian says extra $100m Hunter Water dividend will flow into state's consolidated revenue (January 15, 2019)
- Premier Gladys Berejiklian announces another $205 million for Nelson Bay Road upgrade (Janaury 15, 2019)
- Liberal Party spends $700m in Newcastle but no candidates in sight (January 15, 2019)