STATE Opposition Leader, Matthew Guy, has put his support behind the Bendigo Art Gallery upgrade.
In Bendigo last week, Mr Guy said a Liberals-Nationals State Government would provide $15.5 million for the project if elected this November.
“[The art gallery] has got a fantastic future ahead of it, but it needs to be upgraded,” he said.
“It needs bigger spaces, more contemporary space, it needs to go up, and it needs the ability to house more exhibitions and visitors.”
The total cost of the upgrade is $48 million, with $31 million expected to be provided by the State and Federal governments and the remainder sourced from the City of Greater Bendigo, the Bendigo Art Gallery, and philanthropic donations.
The works would increase the total size of the facility, with an expansion towards Rosalind Park and a second level built.
It is anticipated that it would allow for more Traditional Owner collections and spaces for free exhibitions and school tours, even during major exhibitions.
The Liberal-Nationals are the first party to pledge funding to the project and Mr. Guy said the upgrade is important for Victoria’s “cultural future”.
“This facility has certainly come into its own in the last 12 months and two years in particular with some of the high profile exhibits they’ve had,” he said.
“The gallery and council have made the state proud for some of the work they’ve done in getting so many people through, particularly with [Elvis: Direct from Graceland].”
He said the ideal plan would be to have the project, which is estimated to take two years, completed before the 2026 Commonwealth Games.
City of Greater Bendigo mayor Cr Andrea Metcalf said the municipality has approached the Federal Government, however the Building Better Regions fund from which the money would come is currently under review.
“But when we have money on the table it makes it easier to proceed,” she said. “There are different departments in the Federal Government we will be approaching for funding.”