Newcastle councillors have agreed to increase the city's contribution to the Newcastle Art Gallery expansion project to $16.2 million.
Councillors voted unanimously on Tuesday to "support" a request from the gallery expansion working party to up the council's share of the $39.2 million project from $10 million to help secure government funding.
A lord mayoral minute to Tuesday's meeting said the council had spent $3.6 million on the project and would spend another $2.9 million this year on site works.
Newcastle Art Gallery Foundation has committed $10 million after receiving a bequest of the same amount from the estate of long-time supporter Valerie Ryan.
The foundation has also committed to raising another $2.5 million towards the project, which would also use $500,000 from the Margaret Olley Art Trust.
The committed funds leave a $10 million hole to be filled by the state government, though the council is also lobbying the federal government for money.
The council's $16.2 million is a significant increase on the $7 million it pledged when the project was costed at $21 million in 2014. On that occasion, the council was forced to hand back $7 million in federal funding when the NSW government did not come to the party.
The state government has continued to be cold on the project, but working party chair Cathy Tate is hopeful it will change its mind after she and council representatives met with Arts Minister Don Harwin late last year.
"While the minister was supportive of the need for the expansion to proceed, he felt there was a need for the council to increase its commitment," Ms Tate said in a letter to the council.
"He also felt that a submission to the state government of no more than $10 million would be more likely to be viewed favourably."
Lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes, who also met with Mr Harwin, told Tuesday's meeting that the council had been asking for $16.5 million in grant money "and everyone has said no".
"We have to either increase that commitment or just not do the project," she said.
"I'm not comfortable with not doing the project. Every year we wait it costs more to build."
Independent councillor John Church voted for the cash pledge but questioned whether the funding should be assessed against other worthy projects during the council's annual budget planning.
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