Old council chamber are a picture
By MARY MANN
LOCALS such as Allen Langridge and Valerie Amy were so keen to get the first peek inside Ballina's new Northern Rivers Community Art Gallery last night, they started lining up out the front an hour before the opening.
The gallery, located in the refurbished old council chambers building in Cherry Street, was officially opened by Ballina mayor Phillip Silver and Federal Member for Page Ian Causley.
They praised Ballina Arts and Crafts Centre Inc (BACCI) volunteers, councillors, stakeholders and other community representatives who had worked hard to get the new gallery off the ground.
"This is a new era for Ballina to have a fantastic venue like this," Cr Silver said.
BACCI has been working towards a community art gallery since February, 1998. The group raised $70,000 for the project, while the Federal Government contributed $355,000, the State Government $110,000 and Ballina Shire Council chipped in the balance of $535,000.
The council settled on the old council chambers as the location for the gallery, and renovation works on the 1927-era building began in May.
John Cochrane, secretary of BACCI, said it had been a long, hard grind, but it was worth it.
"Council and the architects have really excelled themselves," he said.
"This is something the community can be really proud of." Following the official opening of the stylish gallery, BACCI opened its inaugural exhibition in the gallery. More than 60 exhibitors showcased their paintings, sculptures, photography and a range of craftworks.
Exhibitors included well-known local artists David Lane, from Fernleigh, and Angus Macdonald and Mark Waller, from Lennox Head.
Today will be a family day at the gallery, from 10am to 4pm, and then it will open from Wednesday to Sunday each week.