24 Nov 2016

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Mayor welcomes Government support for Sarjeant and Museum

Whanganui Mayor Hamish McDouall has welcomed today’s announcement of Government funding for two of the city’s key cultural institutions.

The Regional Culture and Heritage Fund (RCHF) announcements include conditional funding of up to $10 million towards the proposed multi-million dollar re-development of the historic Sarjeant Gallery. The neighbouring Whanganui Regional Museum also receives up to $400,000 towards a $3.8 million upgrade.

“These grants recognise the national cultural significance of the gallery and the museum and are a welcome boost for the city,” Mayor McDouall said.

The funding grants were announced in Whanganui today by Attorney General Hon Chris Finlayson, on behalf of the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Hon Maggie Barry.

Government funding for the Sarjeant Gallery redevelopment is a time-limited conditional offer dependent on the Sarjeant Gallery Trust raising a further $9 million for the $34.9 million redevelopment by 20 December 2017. The funding is also conditional on Whanganui District Council, which owns the Category 1 listed building in Pukenamu Queen’s Park, underwriting any financial shortfall or cost escalation during construction.

Mayor McDouall said the Council would be fully briefed on the funding conditions at the earliest opportunity. Formal resolutions would then need to be approved by the Council.

He paid tribute to the Sarjeant Gallery Trust’s success in raising $10 million in private funds qualifying it to apply for match funding from the RCHF.

“The Sarjeant Gallery Trust has achieved so much and I look forward to them completing the fundraising next year.”

The estimated total cost of earthquake strengthening the existing heritage building and construction of a new wing to house the gallery’s extensive Sarjeant art collection along with education and display facilities is estimated at $34.9 million.

Trust Chair Nicola Williams said the trust was confident of raising the further $9 million needed to see the project to completion within the Government’s timeframe.

“The support we have already received has been part of a gradual and deliberate process that demonstrates the growing commitment to ensuring the Sarjeant remains one of Whanganui and New Zealand’s key cultural institutions,” Ms Williams said.

“A number of other funding applications are in the pipeline and Government’s offer is a huge boost for the project. The redevelopment has the potential to bring in millions of dollars to Whanganui and the Trust is making every effort to ensure the project doesn’t incur any burden on ratepayers. 

“The total estimated cost of the project includes a $3 million contingency for cost overruns.”

Gallery Director Greg Anderson said he was extremely pleased Government had recognised the significance of the Sarjeant Gallery and its collection.

“The architecture of the Pukenamu Queen’s Park building is elegant and enduring and the collection is outstanding,” Mr Anderson said.

“This redevelopment will enable it to be showcased to local audiences and the wider public enabling us to put Whanganui on the map as a major cultural destination.”

With design drawings by Warren and Mahoney Architects prepared and resource consents granted, construction is expected to begin in late 2017 with a two-year timeframe for completion.

Whanganui Regional Museum Director Frank Stark said the $400,000 grant from the RCHF would add an extra dimension to the museum upgrade, enabling more of its treasures to go on public show.

The Council has already committed funding of just over $2 million for earthquake strengthening and repairs.

“The RCHF grant and $290,000 from the Lottery Grants Board, bequests and local fundraising will be used to install climate controlled vaults for the museum’s natural history, Taonga Maori and photographic collections, a new gallery for the Lindauer collection along with upgraded exhibition space, archives and general storage areas,” Mr Stark said.

Work is due to start in January 2017.