Heritage building becomes regional gallery
Inspired by the Shire’s developing arts community, Narrandera Shire Council in New South Wales turned a disused heritage building into a stand-out arts and cultural centre.
The Shire now boasts a centre with two gallery spaces that are also suitable as performance spaces.
The centre is well-located on the Newell Highway, across from the Narrandera Visitor Information Centre only 500 metres from the Narrandera business centre.
The importance of arts and cultural activity as a driver for economic development had been recognised by the community and Council, resulting in a commitment to develop a gallery for the Shire in Council’s Community Strategic Plan.
When an iconic disused building with a highway location was placed on the market, Council jumped at the opportunity to purchase.
Constructed in 1909, the building had served as a Masonic Lodge Leopold for more than 100 years. Its acquisition by Council was a popular move across the Shire.
Council formed the Narrandera Arts and Community Centre Working Party to manage the development of the Centre, with members drawn from Council and the arts community.
From the beginning, the Committee determined that the Centre’s renovation would preserve the heritage values inherent in the building.
Council’s Heritage Advisor and the Western Riverina Arts Regional Development Officer provided guidance and the building’s heritage values have been reflected in the re-development.
Mayor Kschenka said, “Originally it was estimated that development of such a centre would take six years.
“Thankfully the establishment of the centre and its renovation was made quicker because of the substantial funding provided by the NSW Government’s Club’s Grants program $240,000 and the Arts NSW Regional Capital Grants Program $34,000.
“It is pleasing to have, with the efforts of the Narrandera Arts and Community Centre Working Party, and Council staff, a wonderful space for the development of arts and culture in our Shire.
“It is a versatile venue that allows Narrandera Shire residents and local artists of the area to exhibit and celebrate cultural and civic activities.”
The Narrandera Arts and Community Centre was officially opened by NSW Upper House MP, Ben Franklin, in July.
The opening included the Centre’s first exhibition, Murrumbidgee Marramarra, featuring local contemporary Aboriginal artists of the Western Riverina.
Travellers from Melbourne and Sydney that visited the free public five-week exhibition provided very favourable comments about the quality of the works exhibited and their surprise to see such an outstanding exhibition in a rural locality.