The NSW government has opened the door to funding a share of the Newcastle Art Gallery expansion, a $39 million project stuck for years in a bureaucratic quagmire.
Arts Minister Don Harwin confirmed to the Newcastle Herald on Tuesday night that the new two-year, $60 million Creative Capital infrastructure program announced in Tuesday's budget would be open to all parts of NSW.
City of Newcastle, which owns the gallery, has been left frustrated by its ineligibility for previous funding streams, including the Regional Cultural Fund.
The council upped its project contribution to $16 million in February. Newcastle Art Gallery Foundation would provide $10 million from a bequest by long-time backer Valerie Ryan and $2.5 million in fundraising, leaving either the NSW or federal government, or both, to fork out $10 million.
Mr Harwin said as recently as May 29 that it was unlikely a new funding stream would become available to accommodate the gallery project, but the Creative Capital scheme appears to fit the bill.
"This is a program open for the whole state, from Broken Hill to Blacktown, Evans Head to Eden," Mr Harwin said on Tuesday night.
"Communities across NSW all deserve access to quality arts and culture no matter where they live."
Newcastle Art Gallery's collection is considered the second most important in the state, after the Art Gallery of NSW, but has been languishing in substandard storage.
The expansion project would include much larger exhibition and storage spaces, a cafe and a new glass facade.
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