Victoria’s reputation as the nation’s cultural capital will be permanently cemented, thanks to a massive new investment in the Victorian Budget 2020-21 that will support Australia’s largest cultural infrastructure project and provide $220 million for creative spaces, organisations and workers to rebuild, recover and bring their creative ideas to life.
More than $1.46 billion has been allocated to break ground on phase one of the transformation of Melbourne’s Arts Precinct. This phased will build NGV Contemporary – the country’s largest gallery dedicated to contemporary art and design. Phase one also includes the creation of a major new public garden, and foundational works for the second phase of this city-shaping project, which will focus on redeveloping and expanding Arts Centre Melbourne.
The new gallery at 77 Southbank Boulevard will present local and international contemporary art, design and fashion – for both Victorian, interstate and international audiences. It will be a design masterpiece in its own right with a competition launched soon to select an Australian architectural team to design this new landmark for Melbourne.
The gallery will be set in a new 18,000 square metre immersive public garden – with outdoor performances, public art, cafes and restaurants. The public space opened up by the new garden will be the equivalent to the MCG – the only true measurement in Victoria – transforming the area for visitors and locals alike.
The garden will connect the new gallery to Arts Centre Melbourne and NGV International on St Kilda Road, the diverse cultural offering on Southbank Boulevard and along Sturt Street, and to the Yarra.
The project will create an estimated 5,000 jobs in construction and support more than 200 new ongoing jobs in Victoria’s creative sector when complete. It is set to boost Victoria’s cultural tourism industry, which pre-pandemic was worth $2.5 billion a year. Already some 1.5 million international and interstate visitors pass through the doors of the NGV in a standard year – half of all patrons.
The Budget contains a further $220 million to support much-loved creative spaces, industries and workers, taking the total investment in Victoria’s creative life and recovery to a record $1.68 billion.
This includes $34.7 million for regional creative infrastructure projects – backing regional galleries, boosting regional economies and providing more creative experiences for Victorians wherever they live.
Funding will create a new exhibition space in Kyneton at the old primary school, upgrades to Benalla Art Gallery and further investment in the Castlemaine Goods Shed, Shepparton Art Museum, Latrobe Creative Precinct and more.
A new program will also support suburban and regional galleries and museums to undertake improvements that will enable them to attract and host high-quality touring exhibitions – bringing art to every corner of our state.
More than $21 million will be invested in Victoria’s screen industry to ensure it emerges from the pandemic stronger than ever and is well positioned to capitalise on high global demand for screen content. This package is part of the $33.8 million screen industry package announced in mid-November.
A further $9 million will support hard-hit independent creatives and microbusinesses, regional touring and the contemporary music industry, as well as First Peoples focused initiatives. This includes funding to offer new rounds of the Sustaining Creative Workers, Creators Fund and Music Works programs in the new year.
The Budget also provides $19.8 million in capital and operational funding to help state-owned cultural institutions and venues recover, adapt and meet the challenges ahead. This includes projects to make venues COVIDSafe and enable them to present outdoor events and performances.
And $24 million will go to the upkeep of Victoria’s beloved state-owned cultural venues, supporting these iconic institutes for generations to come and continuing to provide an affordable home for a range of non-government arts and cultural organisations.
The Government has separately allocated more than $94.5 million to ensure the viability of agencies such as the National Gallery Victoria and Museums Victoria; and secure jobs in a range of creative, live music and screen organisations within the experience economy.
The Government has also invested $17.2 million for summer and autumn programs at state-owned centres including the Sidney Myer Music Bowl and the Geelong Arts Centre.
This activation funding will also support programming at organisations including Melbourne International Comedy Festival and Midsumma that would have been otherwise unviable, and support for live music in Melbourne’s suburbs and regional Victoria.