The prestigious Archibald Prize 2023 touring exhibition will herald the opening of SECCA - the South East Centre for Contemporary Art - in Bega on the evening of November 17.
Bega Valley Shire Mayor Russell Fitzpatrick said he was honoured to re-introduce this wonderful cultural asset to the South East region.
"It's a tremendous achievement that we now have a firm opening date for the gallery as well as Australia's foremost portraiture prize for its inaugural exhibition," Cr Fitzpatrick said.
"At the beginning of April we were well into preparations for the opening at the end of that month, until the contractor entered voluntary administration. A significant blow, but not a barrier as far as we were concerned.
"Every councillor expressed commitment to seeing the gallery upgrade project delivered while also ensuring best value for money, so council resolved to take on the role of principal contractor.
"Staff were then able to source the right specialist contractors and existing local sub-contractors to finish the project, at an acceptable cost.
"Now, thanks to a lot of hard work from staff and contractors, SECCA is ready to open its doors to the community and broader cultural world as a beacon of creativity and connection."
Federal Member for Eden Monaro and Minister for Regional Development, Local Government and Territories, Kristy McBain said as a resident and former Bega Valley Shire Mayor, it was personally gratifying to see the gallery upgrade completed.
"The major redevelopment of this 30-year-old gallery is a sight to behold, with increased exhibition space, storage, workshop capacity and a retail shop," Ms McBain said.
"SECCA truly is a fit-for-purpose art centre that will deliver a world class artistic program, host important touring exhibitions and become a centrepiece for a strong cultural tourism economy.
"The Australian government is proud to be associated with such an amazing project, which was co-funded under its Building Better Regions Fund to the tune of $1.67million.
"The Australian government values regional cultural institutions and the role they play in our communities in attracting visitors to the region."
NSW Member for Bega Michael Holland said SECCA will no doubt be the cultural hub for the region, now and in the years to come.
"The gallery is a key component of culture-led recovery from the difficult years we've faced and places the shire on the map as a key tourist destination for Australian and international visitors," Dr Holland said.
"Create NSW provided $250,000 towards a new collection and storage system, expanded exhibition space, workshop and project space, as well as the purchase of new projection and AV equipment."
SECCA director Iain Dawson said it was an honour for SECCA to be one of just six galleries selected within NSW and Victoria to exhibit the Archibald Prize 2023.
"Art Gallery of NSW director Dr Michael Brand will officially open the exhibition at a VIP launch on the evening of November 17, where guests will enjoy the ambiance of our much anticipated and impressive gallery, displaying 57 portraits of public figures and cultural identities from all walks of life," Mr Dawson said.
"We have been looking forward to launch day for months and it's very exciting it's nearly here.
"As well as the launch and exhibition, we'll be holding a community weekend on December 9 and 10 so the whole community can check out the new gallery. There'll be events and programs on the Saturday and free entry to the exhibition all weekend."
Tickets to the Archibald Prize 2023, which runs from November 18, to January 7, 2024, are in line with the other venues on the touring schedule. Adults $20; concession/seniors/student $15; youth $10 (7-14 years); family $50 (2 adults and up to 3 youth); free for children 6 and under. Plus booking fee.
Entry will be timed on the hour from 10am with last entry at 4pm daily, except Christmas Day when SECCA will be closed. Bookings are essential and can be made online on the SECCA website.
IN OTHER NEWS:
Gallery's contemporary look
The new-look gallery boasts large windows in the facade, allowing glimpses of the exhibitions from the outside.
SECCA's exhibition space is almost double the size and height of the original gallery and allows natural light into all areas of the building.
The 36sqm climate-controlled storage space houses 350 historical works and a growing permanent collection.
The only contemporary art centre in south-eastern NSW, SECCA's artistic program will deliver an exchange of ideas, acknowledging divergent political, social and moral belief systems of artists and audiences from Australia and the Asia Pacific.
The program will showcase established and emerging artists from the local region alongside those from wider Australia and the Asia Pacific.
The economic benefit generated by SECCA - through increased tourist visitation and the additional expenditure from accommodation, cafes and restaurants and other tourist attractions - is estimated by the council at $3.4million per year.
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