President of the Ballina Arts and Craft Centre Inc (BACCI) Lyn Cochrane and her husband, BACCI secretary John Cochrane, are ove
President of the Ballina Arts and Craft Centre Inc (BACCI) Lyn Cochrane and her husband, BACCI secretary John Cochrane, are ove

Work starts on gallery



NEVER before has Lyn Cochrane been so pleased to see a fence built.

The temporary fence put up over the past week around the old council chambers building in Cherry Street, Ballina, signals to the president of the Ballina Arts and Craft Centre Inc (BACCI) that finally, after a nine-year effort, work has begun on the $1-million project to create the Northern Rivers Community Art Gallery.

"I can't believe it's actually happening," Lyn said.

"It will be a great contribution to the cultural community of Ballina and the region."

BACCI has been working towards establishing a gallery since it was founded by the late Grace Cruice in 1998.

The volunteer group raised $70,000 for the gallery, obtained $450,000 in Federal and State government grants and lobbied council to chip in the balance.

They were given false hope in September 2005 when a sod-turning ceremony was held at Ballina's Treelands Reserve ? the fourth site earmarked by Ballina Shire Council for the gallery.

But a budget blow-out in the costs of building at Treelands Reserve meant it was back to the drawing board, with the deadlines looming for the government grants.

Now, Ballina Shire Council has signed a contract with Transfield Services to renovate the old council chambers, and work is expected to be finished in 10 to 12 weeks with an opening scheduled for August.

Once renovated, the heritage building will have four gallery rooms and a cafe.

BACCI has applied to council to be the managers of the gallery.

The group is still seeking donations and volunteer support. Phone Lyn Cochrane on 6681 5874.


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