The first sod on the long-awaited Lismore Quadrangle Project and Lismore Regional Gallery was turned today by Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan, Lismore City Mayor Jenny Dowell and State Member for Lismore Thomas George.
Once complete the Lismore Quadrangle project, costing a total of $5.8 million, will include a relocated gallery in the old C Block building as well as a public piazza and new car parking.
Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan said project will boost visitor numbers to the Quadrangle, which includes the Northern Rivers Conservatorium and Lismore Library, to about 300,000 annually, create 27 direct jobs, and expand Lismore’s economy by $1.8 million annually.
“I was happy to secure $2.85 million under the Federal Government’s Building Stronger Regions programme that turned this long-held dream into a reality,” he said.
“This is great news for our community and will create a new landmark and meeting place within the CBD benefiting all our retailers.
“What is wonderful to see, is all sections of our community working together for a common goal. I am particularly happy that the construction work has been awarded to a local company, which will provide local jobs for local people.”
Lismore-based Bennett Constructions is building the new gallery, which was designed by
Bangalow-based architect Dominic Finlay Jones.
Mr Hogan said the Federal funding, which he announced in December 2015, would be matched by $120,000 from the Lismore Quadrangle Pledge Campaign, $300,000 from the sale of the existing building, $126,800 in other public donations, a $110,000 Arts NSW grant, and $500,000 donated by the Margaret Olley Arts Council.
Lismore City Council will fund the remainder with borrowings of up to $1.9 million, and Friends of the Gallery will work to boost fundraising to help minimise costs.
Lismore City Mayor Jenny Dowell, who has been advocating for a new gallery for all of her time on council, said the sod turning marked a new turning point in Lismore’s history as a regional city.
“This is a milestone project for our city – it will further cement our place as the regional centre of the Northern Rivers with a major gallery that can attract national and international touring exhibitions as well as continuing to showcase the extraordinary diversity of fine local art our region produces,” she said.
“I can honestly say that that seeing this project come to fruition is one my highlights as Mayor. Council has been actively pushing for a new regional gallery for almost 15 years, even before I joined Council more than 12 years ago. The current regional gallery was only ever meant to be a temporary space. This is a very special moment for me personally in the week before I step down as Mayor and a truly historic occasion for Lismore.”