Hundreds gather to support art gallery

THE Albury arts and cultural communities stepped up support for the art gallery redevelopment with a strong turnout at a packed information session last night.

More than 250 people attended the forum arranged by Albury Council less than a week ago which started with arts group members entering the Albury Entertainment Centre waving placards and playing drums.

The forum is the start of another round of community consultation aimed at determining the level of support for doubling the ratepayers’ contribution to $7 million.

David Thurley was the only councillor not present, but he was an apology along with member for Albury Greg Aplin.

The council’s acting general manager Michael Keys and community and cultural director James Jenkins provided background before taking more than 20 questions from the floor during the forum which lasted nearly two hours.

Former councillors Rob Angus and Philomena Sawyer also attended along with ex-mayor Arthur Frauenfelder.

The majority of attendees were members of the arts and cultural communities with many wearing recently produced green badges supporting the upgrade.

Also backing the arts were Murray Conservatorium director Stephen O’Connell and HotHouse Theatre artistic director Jon Halpin.

“It will bring to the region far more than the outlay,” Mr Halpin said.

“Something like this will be a jewel in the crown for the cultural identity of this region.”

Former art gallery director Audray Banfield urged the council to “just do it”.

“The place is rich with cultural activity and the art gallery could enhance that 500-fold,” she said.

“We could have people flocking here just like they have in Bendigo.

“Art is not for the elite, art is for everyone.”

The biggest cheer was reserved for artist Mary-Jane Griggs, who urged the community to “have the confidence to go forward”.

But not all supported the council bankrolling the project with another $3.5 million including Bill Forge.

“The arts community is fully represented 

here tonight (but) the working class families of Albury, Thurgoona and Lavington are at home,” he said.

“Without a debt of $53 million you could fund this project.”

Pensioner Dot Williams said the timing wasn’t right.

“We have to realise times are bad and we can’t afford this,” she said.

Click or flick across for more photos from the meeting. PICTURES: John Russell.

Click or flick across for more photos from the meeting. PICTURES: John Russell.