Rockhampton's $10m funding windfall
IT'S A project fit for Rex Pilbeam's lasting legacy.
The rich collection of modern art the former Rockhampton mayor founded will finally get a home fit for its beauty, with the Federal Government adding the final $10 million needed to make it a $31.5m reality.
The iconic former mayor went door to door collecting donations to kickstart the gallery collection which has grown to become one of the best in regional Australia.
But it has long outgrown its original home next to the Pilbeam Theatre on Victoria Pde.
A stunning new gallery precinct will be jointly funded by Rockhampton Regional Council and the State and Federal Governments.
Mayor Margaret Strelow was thrilled to celebrate the announcement at Customs House on Quay St, which will sit as a historic contrast alongside the three-storey modern art gallery.
"This is a critical project for our region on so many levels, not least of which honouring Rex Pilbeam's legacy and giving a proper home for the extraordinary collection he amassed," she said.
The project hinged on this announcement, after the State Government last year agreed to provide $8 million on the basis of the Federal Government's $10 million.
The State Government also provided $2 million towards design work.
Rockhampton Regional Council has contributed $8.5 million and is waiting on a further $5 million through another State Government grant program.
The announcement is not an election promise, but comes as a result of the latest round of the Building Better Regions Fund.
Capricornia MP Michelle Landry had previously failed to secure national art exhibitions for the city due to space restrictions at the current Art Gallery.
"This project will deliver so much for the region and provide opportunity to not only get a better look at our own collections but to have the opportunity to attract major travelling exhibits that previously passed our region by," Ms Landry said.
"It is projects such as this that make our regional communities even better places to live, work and raise a family and I'm excited to see the positive difference this funding will make to the community."
The designs have been developed by Conrad Gargett, in conjunction with Clare Design and Yeppoon architect Brian Hooper.
The building will incorporate sandstone from the same quarry which provided the material for neighbouring Customs House to create a unified look through the precinct.
Art Gallery director Bianca Acimovic said the project would not have been possible without the hard work of each level of government.
Cr Strelow hopes tenders will be released before the end of financial year, with an 18-month build time expected.