Debate about the location of a new Bunbury Regional Art Gallery is heating up as the Bunbury City Council gets set to vote on its preferred site.
The council is considering two sites for a new building, one option is to extend the current galleries across the adjacent car park and the other would be a $45 million development on the Leschenault Inlet.
Feasibility studies into both locations have been completed and the matter will go to the council at next Tuesday’s meeting.
The Bunbury Regional Arts Management Board has expressed its support for the extension of the existing galleries noting the board believed it would be the most appropriate site.
The extensions would be expected to cost about $12 million.
The second option, on Leschenault Inlet, was first brought to the council in 2010 by Bunbury businessman Geoff Prosser and prolific art collector Lloyd Horn.
City of Bunbury staff, however, have recommended the council abandon the Leschenault Inlet as the preferred site due to a number of concerns.
The core concern is that capital and operating costs of the ‘‘Foreshore Gallery’’ would be far beyond the council’s budget.
Other concerns were the conflict of functions at the Foreshore Gallery with the the soon-to-be expanded Bunbury Regional Entertainment Centre and the community opposition to foreshore development.
If the council opts for the extensions to the galleries a detailed analysis will be undertaken by the Executive Leadership team, the Bunbury Regional Art Management Board and the Art Collection Committee to further evaluate it as the city’s preferred site.
A draft strategy for the future of the galleries would then be presented to the council within the next six months when the council also considers the outcome of a feasability study into museum sites.
Bunbury Mayor David Smith, chief executive Andrew Brien and a number of councillors are travelling in China and while they missed this week’s meeting they will be home in time for Tuesday’s meeting.Last month Mr Smith said the city should aspire to build a gallery in the likeness of the Tasmanian Museum of Old and New Art and questioned why Bunbury could not build something similar.
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