First sod turned on artist gallery
By DAWN COHEN
GRACE CRUICE would have gazed down on Ballina with great joy yesterday.
The late founder of the Ballina Arts and Craft Centre Inc (BACCI) died just 12 months before her dream of a Northern Rivers Community Gallery took root.
Yesterday morning, a ceremo- nial turning of the first sod launched the architectural design of the gallery on-site at Treelands Reserve.
"Grace began the whole project," said BACCI president Lyn Cochrane.
"I can feel her spirit close to us, she must be dancing in heaven. At last the artists and artisans of this area will have a home."
With $1 million in its coffers, BACCI hopes to begin construction of the 270 square metre gallery on the council-owned land before Christmas.
Last week, the Federal government Sustainable Region Project kicked in $390,500, while Ballina Shire Council pledged $400,000 last year.
About $60,000 has been raised by the organisation over seven years, and the State government has donated about $80,000.
However, $300,000 more is needed for the construction of a studio and workshop space in the second stage of construction.
The new gallery hopes to involve about 5000 local artists and crafts people in training and professional development within three years of its operation.
For Digby Moran, renowned local Aboriginal artist and patron of the centre, the space will provide a welcome opportunity for indigenous artists to share their work.
"There aren't many opportunities, specially in Ballina," he said, while perusing the plans.
"The gallery will make a big difference."