Contemporary art is being reimagined in the Bega Valley, with the newly expanded South East Centre for Contemporary Art (SECCA) offically opened on Friday (November 17) by Minister for Regional Development and Federal Member for Eden-Monaro, Kristy McBain, and Bega Valley Shire Mayor, Russell Fitzpatrick.
Funded as part of the Bega Valley Cultural and Recreational Infrastructure Project – which received around $2.47 million in funding from the Australian Government – the transformed art space has nearly doubled the size of the former Bega Valley Regional Gallery, creating a new cultural hub for the South East region.
The redevelopment is one component of the Bega Valley Cultural and Recreational Infrastructure Project, which also includes construction of the Pambula Squash Courts, completed in June 2022, and upgrade of the Eden Skate Park, expected to commence construction in November 2023.
The centre will open daily from 10am to 5pm, closing on Christmas Day and New Years Day.
It will also play host to the Archibald Prize 2023 exhibition, which runs from 18 November 2023 to 7 January 2024.
Bega Valley Shire Mayor, Russell Fitzpatrick told East Coast Radio SECCA was more than just a physical space.
“It is a platform for artistic expression in all its forms,” Cr Fitzpatrick said.
“Through historical exhibitions, it provides a window to our past, while contemporary programs and major talent exploration pave the way for the future,” he continued.
“SECCA is already making its mark on the national art scene, having been selected as one of just six galleries in NSW and Victoria to exhibit the world-renowned Archibald Prize.
“Opening the gallery to a prestigious exhibition of this calibre is a fantastic first chapter to SECCA, and I look forward to many thought-provoking and visually stunning programs in the years to come.”
Qianyi Lim, Director of Sibling Architecture (pictured with her family above) said Bega Valley Shire Council had been incredibly supportive.
“Council has been great with a future-focussed outlook on what a gallery space for the community could be and its vast potential as a cultural hub for years to come,” Lim said.
“This has been a long journey and a real passion project for me so Ito see the gallery open its doors is a big moment for me.”
“I think my favourite thing about the design is when all of the windows are open and the light and inviting space it creates, as well as the steps out the front which are designed to make the space inclusive and give people a place to sit, meet or gather.”
Member for Eden-Monaro, Kristy McBain said It was fantastic to officially open the exciting new artistic and cultural space for the Bega Valley and surrounding region,
“This space will have such a positive impact in our community,” Minister McBain said.
“From driving economic growth in the Bega Valley through increased tourism – to bringing people together like never before, this purpose-built space will really transform how we showcase local, regional and touring art.
“That’s why we’ve injected $2.47 million to the Bega Valley Cultural and Recreational Infrastructure Project – as part of our commitment to activating diverse community infrastructure outside of our big cities.
SECCA Director, Iain Dawson, was like a kid in a candy shop at the opening event, in which he spoke about the years of hard work that many people had put into the project.
“We are simultaneously keeping our vision broad and ambitious while also maintaining a focus on community through working with local groups such as Tulgeen Disability Services on their wonderful Art in the Garage program,” Mr Dawson said.
“This is an important part of what SECCA stands for by providing opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to participate in the arts,” he continued.
“SECCA is a place where everyone is welcome. Our aim was to create a space where people can come to experience art and free expression, to learn about different cultures, and above all, be inspired.
“The cultural and art space was made possible through generous financial assistance from the Australian Government.
“Together with a co-contribution from Council and a $250,000 grant from Create NSW for a new workshop and project space, and a state-of-the-art collection and storage system, we have turned our vision of building a cultural hub for the South East into a reality.
Images: James Fennessy / East Coast Radio