Artist impression of the plans to extend Bunker Cartoon Gallery.
Artist impression of the plans to extend Bunker Cartoon Gallery.

Council allocates further funding for gallery expansion

FOLLOWING a unanimous vote, Coffs Harbour City Council will allocate a further $189,700 to the Bunker Cartoon Gallery Inc's (BCG) expansion project.

This is to cover costs that were not budgeted for in the plans for the expansion of the facility.

BCG Inc had requested further funding after finding the group's budget did not cover the 10 per cent escalation of construction costs since the start of the project to create a new gallery space and cafe, Developer Contribution charges, a water network upgrade costing $90,000 and an Essential Energy infrastructure upgrade costing $63,000.

The total amount requested was $213,000 over 16 months.

After consideration of the report and representation from BCG Inc's Paul McKeon, the council agreed to contribute $189,700 in total comprising $63,000 for the Essential Energy bill, $41,700 for water and sewer Developer Contributions costs and an annual operating subsidy for 2020/21 of $85,000 which takes into account cash reserves forecast by BCG Inc.

Council has previously provided a total of $155,000 in funding to assist BCG Inc in applying for a NSW Government grant for the project.

Mr McKeon said because of the decision the building project is on track.

"This decision … underlines council's ongoing support for more cultural facilities in the city," he said.

In a statement the council has said for a number of years the gallery has also had its running costs subsidised with the current annual subsidy of $65,000 due to end in June 2020.

It also has a discounted rent of $3,281 a year plus GST effective from July.

During the inception phase of the project, the council said various concerns were raised at the time with BCG Inc with regard to the estimated construction cost, which was being factored into the overall budget for the project.

Council said a number of the issues now being experienced by BCG Inc were previously raised with BCG Inc.

However, the report also pointed out that having a variety of cultural experiences in the Coffs Harbour local government area is a goal of the council's adopted 'Creative Coffs, Council's Cultural Strategic Plan 2017-2022' and there is a risk that should the council not provide some level of assistance to BCG Inc, the project may not be completed.



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