State boost for gallery expansion

September 9, 2021 BY

Geelong Gallery director and CEO Jason Smith is excited with the progress of plans to expand the gallery space into the town hall. PHOTO: Hails & Shine.

PLANS to double the size of the Geelong Gallery to enable more major art exhibitions while displaying the gallery’s own treasured collections are another step closer to reality.

While the gallery team pivots and twirls around COVID restrictions – with hectic work to postpone the highly-regarded Frederick McCubbin exhibition underway, and the prestigious Archibald just two months away – the timing of a funding announcement couldn’t be better.

The state government has announced it will join the City of Greater Geelong and the Geelong Gallery board in funding an updated business case for the shared vision to see the Geelong Gallery expanded into Town Hall.

The $125,000 allocation to advance the UNESCO City of Design Geelong Gallery initiative, is among the first grants from the state’s $10 million Enabling Tourism Fund.

Mayor Stephanie Asher said the city was delighted the State Government would be contributing $125,000 towards developing the business case for the gallery’s expansion.

“We’re a step closer towards our long-term plan for the Geelong Gallery to be expanded as part of the delivery our new civic precinct,” Cr Asher said.

Gallery director and CEO Jason Smith said the funding would enable the business case to be presented to the government by the end of the year and, he was thrilled to be reaching the point of realisation for stage three of the arts strategy.

He said the three-way partnership and business case funding would ensure the momentum to proceed with the gallery’s expansion wouldn’t be lost.

“The support for our expansion comes from grass roots right up to government and I’m confident of our capacity to occupy double the footprint of what we have now,” Mr Smith said.

In addition to attracting more major exhibitions which are expected to bring 200,000 to Geelong annually, the expanded gallery would provide exhibition space for its own collections which include more than 6000 works.

Mr Smith said as well as the gallery’s place as a space for arts and culture, it was very much a social and civic hub and the expansion would enable more civic events to be held around art.

“We need more gallery space for the work that the people of Geelong own … we are so lucky with our cultural precinct, we just need to finish it.”

Meanwhile, the gallery team is working behind the scenes to defer the high-profile Frederick McCubbin exhibition which was due to open last week.

Mr Smith said the aim was to move the exhibition to an October opening and they were looking into the possibility of keeping the exhibition, which included pieces from various other galleries, over summer.

“We’re feeling good about it; we’re looking at the program and we’ve had a very supportive conversation with the state government regarding the exhibition’s indemnity it’s just logistically whether we can do it, he said.

“We want to do this over summer; Archie and McCubbin. We are staying positive.”

Thank you for supporting local journalism!