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The Gallery Foundation chair Rod Watters (left) was excited to hand over a $100,000 cheque to Grafton Regional Gallery director Niomi Sands and Clarence Valley Council’s mayor, Jim Simmons, at the foundation’s sold out function, Art in the Paddock, held at Wave Hill Station on Sunday. Image: Contributed

$100k donation to Grafton Regional Gallery

Geoff Helisma

The Gallery Foundation handed a $100,000 cheque to Grafton Regional Gallery’s director, Niomi Sands, and Clarence Valley’s mayor, Jim Simmons, at its Art in the Paddock function held at Wave Hill Station on Sunday, June 6.

“Art in the Paddock is a regional celebration of art, especially sculpture, plus live music, delicious food, high tea, a pay-bar with great beers and fine wines, bush tours and fun activities for children,” the foundation’s website states.

Foundation chair, Rod Watters, said the “donation represents years of community fundraising efforts and fulfils the foundation’s commitment” to meet the terms of the $7.6 million NSW Regional Cultural Fund grant awarded to Clarence Valley Council, in 2018, to expand the gallery.

“We haven’t made a donation this big before,” Mr Watters said.

“The Gallery Foundation was established about 15 years ago, to raise funds for the collection and infrastructure of the regional gallery.”

Mr Watters said the money was raised “over about three years”.

“Specifically, the foundation made this commitment [to the gallery], as the NSW government required not just support from Clarence Valley Council, but from the community, too.

“So, we are reflecting the generosity of people up and down the Clarence Valley.

“The foundation is the major fundraising organisation to support the regional gallery’s infrastructure and collection – the gallery holds 3,500 works, valued at $4million, in various shapes and sizes.

“About four years ago the gallery was under severe threat from the council, to reduce its budget, which, frankly, would have killed the gallery.

“So the foundation dived in and staged what I call a ‘town hall meeting’, to present plans and models of the gallery’s future potential and expansion.”

Expansion of the Grafton Regional Gallery was completed earlier this year and a grand reopening, titled, ‘Celebrate the Magic’, took place on March 20 and 21.