With work underway at the former Cudgegong Council Chambers, a further $1.5 million in NSW Government funding was announced today to complete the transformation of the site into the Region's arts and cultural precinct. The $8.1 million project will link to the Lawson Park Sculpture Walk, with funding to help pay for the construction of a new state-of-the-art Artists Workshop centre, including five workshop spaces, indoor and outdoor classrooms, amenities, a footpath and parking.
Mayor of the NSW Mid-Western Regional Council, Des Kennedy, said, "now this will be the Rolls Royce of art and cultural centres".
"Before it was probably not going to be quite to this level, but with this extra $1.5 million - which takes the total spend to a tick over $8 million - it will be something to be seen," he said.
"Work has started and hopefully around this time next year, we should be to see some beautiful art and seeing budding young artists in our workshop spaces. Also, as locals and regular visitors to the area know, we've got a beautiful Sculpture Walk and this will link into it through Walkers Oval. So it will be a fantastic precinct."
Member for the Dubbo Electorate Dugald Saunders said the Cultural Precinct will become the dedicated home of the arts in the region, providing workspaces to accommodate the ongoing development of artists and a space to host visiting artists and exhibitions.
"This is the future of Mudgee as we see it. There's already been a commitment of many millions of dollars to this point, but the extra $1.5 million that the State Government is contributing will see it completed in total," he said.
"Which will be the building redeveloped and a whole new addition that will include exhibition space and fantastic spaces for artists of all kinds. The building directly adjacent, which has been a preschool and a Council building, will be converted to classroom and workshop space.
"This becomes the real precinct for art and culture in Mudgee, arriving into town it will be one of the most noticeable things in town. And increases the potential for local artists to get training and scope up their own abilities and also for visiting artists and travelling exhibitions this will be the heart of everything art and culture in Mudgee."
The funding announced today is in addition to $2.3 million committed in early 2019 under the NSW Government's Regional Cultural Fund, which was matched by Mid-Western Regional Council to construct and fit out the regional gallery. The Commonwealth Government also contributed $1.5 million through the Building Better Regions Fund.
Mr Saunders added that such a project is also important for the arts and tourism sectors in a post-COVID recovery.
"What this does is show confidence in the future. Arts have definitely been heavily hit, we know that right across the state but particularly in regional areas," he said.
"And this is part of a great tourism offering, with Mudgee you've got wine and food and so many other attractions - this will add to attraction, it will keep people in town longer. And give the opportunity for big and meaningful exhibitions to be here.
"I think tourism will grow on the back of that, which is really important as we talk about COVID recovery."