RDA ignores real value of city’s gallery

THE long wait for a Lismore Art Gallery worthy of the name just got longer.

It's a far cry from the vision expressed in the original cultural precinct idea back in 2001.

At that stage, the cultural precinct was expected to cost about $70 million.

It was to incorporate a new gallery and museum as its centrepiece, a new library at Magellan St (this was actually done back in 2003), inner-city apartments sitting over retail stores and live-in art studios, Lismore's fabled multi-storey carpark, parks, and a commercial centre.

Compared to that grand plan, a few million dollars for a regional art gallery that doesn't endanger the artworks it displays doesn't seem like a big ask. Apparently, though, it's too much for Regional Development Australia to get a handle on. The gallery didn't even make the shortlist of regional projects the RDA is considering funding.

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

Perhaps the RDA's decision not to take a closer look at the gallery reflects community feeling about it. The new gallery is a source of much division in the community, particularly following the tens of millions spent developing the Memorial Baths and the Goonellabah Sports and Aquatic Centre.

There is a strong feeling that Lismore City Council ought to be focused entirely on core issues, such as getting the road network up to scratch.

That's a view that deserves some sympathy. But, if the council is to be restricted to the three Rs (roads, rates, rubbish), some other agency needs to step forward to take responsibility for the gallery.

Putting aside the question of a cultural precinct, or of the Richmond River Historical Society needing a decent space to display their treasures, it is ludicrous that one of Australia's greatest artistic communities doesn't have a decent gallery.



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