For 60 years the existing Lismore Regional Art Gallery has been going to be replaced.
For 60 years the existing Lismore Regional Art Gallery has been going to be replaced. David Nielsen

Gallery hangs in the balance

READERS of The Northern Star have spoken and you overwhelming want a new regional art gallery in Lismore.

The result of the internet and SMS poll were 67 per cent in favour with 467 people voting.

Crunch time for the Margaret Olley Art Centre (MOAC) will come at council’s December 8 meeting when councillors vote whether to proceed.

However, The Northern Star understands that a no vote is likely with a paper-thin majority of councillors poised to vote against the $8 million project.

At a council workshop last Tuesday, finance manager Rino Santin said MOAC was affordable if council didn’t embark on new major projects for the next two years.

He said there would be no need to raise additional funds for the gallery before 2012/13 financial year as money could be found in the budget to cover increased operating costs until then.

After this date, council may consider striking an additional increase of 1.94pc to fund the gallery, road works and environmental levy.

Under the proposal, the council will apply for Federal funding of $4 million, with $1 million provided by Southern Cross University and other private donors.

Council will borrow $3 million for its contribution to the project.

Providing the financial update on the project, Mr Santin said the $3 million loan would cost the council $280,000 annually for the next 30 years.

Once completed in December 2011, the MOAC would rival the Tweed Regional Gallery which came in slightly under budget at $3.82 million and attracts 60,000 visitors every year.

The MOAC is predicted to attract more than 40,000 annually.

The future of the MOAC came to a head at this month’s council meeting when a motion was adopted to appoint designers to the project.

However, after the meeting councillors Graham Meineke and Neil Marks successfully put forward a rescission motion, effectively preventing the appointment of the designers until it was discussed at next month’s meeting.

Mr Marks said yesterday he was still not convinced that Lismore could afford the project at this time.

Deputy mayor Issac Smith said Mr Santin’s presentation showed the centre was affordable.

“The impression I got at the meeting was that the centre is affordable and the impression I get from the people of Lismore is that now is the right time, particularly as we can get $4 million in Federal funds,” he said.

“The people of Lismore have been promised a proper gallery for 60 years and it is time that promise is honoured.”



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