City updates Gallery expansion plans to include more exhibition space

22 July 2020

City of Newcastle will shortly lodge an amended development application to further increase exhibition floor space for an expanded Newcastle Art Gallery.

Earlier this week the Lord Mayor and Gallery Director Lauretta Morton presented the revised plans to Federal Senator Hollie Hughes and NSW Upper House Member Taylor Martin MLC, along with the Newcastle Art Gallery Working Party Chair Cathy Tate and the Board of the Art Gallery Foundation.

(L-R): Newcastle Art Gallery Foundation Chair Suzie Galwey, Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes, Senator Hollie Hughes and Taylor Martin MLC at Newcastle Art Gallery.

The expansion will see the 43-year-old building extended east along Darby Street and Queen Street with an eye-catching glass façade, a street-level café and retail shop, with overall exhibition space expanded by 250% which will include a dedicated display of the Gallery’s permanent collection. The additional exhibition space has in part been created by the removal of two shopfronts that were previously proposed in the approved DA.

Lord Mayor Nuatali 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,” the Lord Mayor 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.”

Taylor Martin MLC welcomed the opportunity to be briefed on plans for the site.

“City of Newcastle has presented a well-considered proposal for its Art Gallery expansion including its recent amendments which will ensure the maximum exposure of its collection through more exhibition space.”

Chair of the Newcastle Art Gallery Foundation, Suzie Galwey, said she was pleased to see plans progress.

“The Foundation’s mission is to build and nurture our highly acclaimed Newcastle Art Gallery collection, and this expansion is key to that.”

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.”

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.

BIS Oxford Economics completed a Preliminary Cost Benefit Analysis in March 2019 demonstrating that the benefits of the expansion proposal far outweigh the costs with a Benefit-Cost Ratio of 1.77 and a Net Present Value of $24.1 million, including 170 new jobs during its two year construction.

Benefits to the NSW Economy:

  • The Cost Benefit Analysis by BIS Oxford Economics positively demonstrates that the benefits of the proposal far outweigh the costs with a Benefit-Cost Ratio (BCR) of 1.77 and a positive Net Present Value (NPV) of $23.8 million.
  • The expanded NAG would further develop an arts and culture precinct within walking distance of the Civic Precinct: Newcastle City Hall, the Civic Theatre, Newcastle Library and Newcastle Museum.
  • The estimated job creation from the expansion project has been estimated by Prosperity Consulting at 170 jobs; comprising 152 temporary jobs during the construction phase and 18 ongoing FTE jobs post completion.
  • The 152 jobs compromise 76 direct jobs directly generated in the region in the areas of construction and consultancy from the project. An additional 38 jobs will result from additional production and an additional 38 jobs will be generated from the additional consumption.
  • The redevelopment of NAG would provide a wide range of benefits to society associated with increased exhibitions, events, expansion of educational programs and upgraded facilities.
  • The annual effect on regional revenue attributable to the Gallery’s expansion/ redevelopment is estimated at $1,099,830 with 14,116 additional local and tourist visits.
  • Further additional visitation is estimated at 73,590 in relation to use of the additional Gallery facilities outside of exhibition spaces; generating revenue of $2.7 million in relation to the use of these facilities.