Qld Govt commits to Rocky's $31.5M art gallery dream

Mayor in Collection Store June 2017 Budget release, image mornign Bulletin.jpg

QUEENSLAND Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has promised "to do everything we can” to bring Rockhampton Regional Council's $31.5-million art gallery dream to life.

During parliament Question Time yesterday Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rourke asked Ms Palaszczuk how the State Government would assist in building the new gallery, which is set to become a major tourist attraction for the region.

The council plans to demolish 212 and 214 Quay St, next to Customs House, and build a three-storey modern gallery.

The new gallery will have the ability to host national exhibitions and include a space dedicated to the nationally signification 1500-piece Rex Pilbeam collection now worth $14million.

Ms Palaszczuk said she saw a small selection of this "significant art collection” during the opening of the refurbished Waltzing Matilda Centre in Winton.

"Some of the greatest collections of Australian art are actually housed in Rockhampton,” she told the chamber.

"Very rarely has it been displayed. It needs an art gallery so everyone can see it.”

In telling how former mayor Rex Pilbeam had canvassed residents for the funds to build the collection, Ms Palaszczuk joked "it's a great story, someone should write a book about it”.

Ms Palaszczuk revealed the State Government-funded $2-million business case had been completed and submitted.

"We will be looking to see how we can support the concept,” she said.

"We're looking at partnering with the council and it would be great to see the federal government partner with us.

"We're going to do everything we can to see your dream come true.”

The project was initially planned to include refurbishment of the existing buildings and estimated to cost $16 million.

However, the council earlier this year endorsed updated plans to start the precinct from scratch and build a gallery capable to hosting large travelling exhibitions.

Rockhampton mayor Margaret Strelow has said the plan could not happen without support from State and Federal governments.

It is proposed that the remaining $20million needed for the project be funded in a 50:50 split between State and Federal governments.

Cr Strelow was pleased with the discussion on the floor of parliament.

"To have a project so dear to our hearts spoken about so passionately and advocated for in parliament today by the premier is fantastic news for the new art gallery,” she said.

"The Premier has been a consistent supporter of this project and to hear her talk about Rex Pilbeam and how be built this collection is a fitting tribute to the man behind the excellent collection we have today.

"Almost 40 years ago, Rex Pilbeam charged future generations with maintaining the art gallery and said 'This is the least that we can expect the citizens of tomorrow in return for the splendid contribution made by the citizens of today'.

"Those words mean more now than ever and to hear both the premier's and state member's strong support for this project is a proud moment.”

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