An amended development application (DA) is set to transform the Newcastle Art Gallery and be a major drawcard for the city.
Earlier this week, City of Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes and Gallery Director Lauretta Morton presented the revised plans to Federal Senator Hollie Hughes and NSW Upper House Member Taylor Martin, along with the Newcastle Art Gallery Working Party Chair Cathy Tate and the Board of the Art Gallery Foundation Suzie Galwey.
The planned expansion will see the building extended east along Darby Street and Queen Street with a glass façade, a street-level café and retail shop, with overall exhibition space expanded by 250%.
The additional exhibition space has in part been created by the removal of two shopfronts that were previously proposed in the approved DA.
Newcastle Art Gallery Director Lauretta Morton said the redeveloped Gallery would be a major drawcard for the city.
“As Australia’s first purpose-built regional Gallery, Newcastle is custodian to a nationally recognised permanent collection of over 7,000 works of art, providing a time capsule of Australian art dating back to the earliest days of Newcastle more than 200 years ago when it became Australia’s second city to be settled,” Ms Morton said.
“The long-awaited expansion of the Gallery, which our Foundation, Society and the community have worked tirelessly towards, will offer the ability to share more of the City’s collection, displaying works of art of local, national and international importance for visitors to view and enjoy.
“This makes the Gallery one of the City’s biggest cultural assets, located in the heart of the city centre’s revitalisation directly across from the new 5-star Kingsley Hotel.”
Cr Nelmes said the State Government had previously endorsed the project in its Cultural Infrastructure Plan 2025, which identified the Newcastle Art Gallery redevelopment as a regional opportunity.
“An expanded Newcastle Art Gallery would further develop the Civic Precinct and provide a wide range of benefits to the community including increased exhibitions, events, educational programs and upgraded facilities,” she said.
“This is particularly important as a mechanism to help stimulate the NSW economy and create 170 jobs during this time of uncertainty.
“The annual impact on regional revenue would be more than $1 million, with 14,116 additional local visitors and tourists exploring what the gallery and the city has to offer.”
Senator Hollie Hughes said Monday’s meeting was positive and demonstrated a collaborative approach to the Gallery expansion.
“Newcastle Art Gallery is well supported by the local community and it was useful to hear more from the City’s representatives about plans for this project and how a collaborative approach may help bring it to life,” she said.
City of Newcastle has committed more than $10 million to the project and to date invested $3.6 million towards the Art Gallery expansion.
Based on a 2019 quantity survey, $35.6 million is required to complete the construction of the expanded Newcastle Art Gallery.