Time's up for Clocktower

Clocktower Gallery members, from left: Haze and George Castrissios, Bernie Kenny, Joyce Campbell, Barbara Teare and Maureen O’Shea. The gallery members have been told to move out of Tourist Information Centre in South Grafton.
Clocktower Gallery members, from left: Haze and George Castrissios, Bernie Kenny, Joyce Campbell, Barbara Teare and Maureen O’Shea. The gallery members have been told to move out of Tourist Information Centre in South Grafton. Adam Hourigan

THE 22 mainly elderly members of the Clocktower Gallery don't know what more they could have done to keep their premises at the Grafton Tourist Information Centre.

Gallery president Bernie Kenny said in the five-year relationship gallery members helped gain $170,000 in Federal Government and Clarence Valley Council grants to fund renovations officially opened in April this year.

They've paid 20% of the takings in that time (about $127,000) to Clarence Valley Tourism, reclaiming 5% to spend on upkeep of the premises and provided a daily volunteer who has been able to help out centre staff in busy periods.

"They used to have two people on staff when we moved in, but they've been able to cut that back to one," Mr Kenny said.

The good times came to an end for the gallery on July 30 when the Clarence River Tourism board resolved "that the current arrangements in place with the Clocktower Gallery cease to exist from 1 September 2012, and that the manager advise the Clocktower Gallery in writing by 31 July 2012."

Clarence Valley Tourism doesn't dispute the relationship has been mutually beneficial.

Vice-president Bob Little said it had been remark- ably amicable, but the board decided the centre needed to focus more on the original intent of the building, to conduct audio-visual displays of Clarence Valley attractions.

"It was one of those things that happen over time," Mr Little said.

"Over a period things change until you realise these things have got out of hand."

The decision could spell the end for the gallery which began life almost two decades ago operating out of a shop in Pound St, near Weileys Hotel.

"When we moved in there the walls were a bright orange colour," Mr Kenny said.

"We were eventually allowed to paint them a more suitable colour.

"When we got the place looking good they put the rent up and we had to move out. That situation seems to have repeated itself."

Mr Kenny said it was likely the gallery members would disband as they would find it hard to get new premises.

"The gallery gave a lot of us something to do as well as earn a little bit of cash to supplement our pension," he said.

"But the main thing was it gave a lot of us a reason to get out of bed in the morning."

Topics:  tourism

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