Gallery's future has strong foundation

MARCH 20, 2009 was a fitting day to support and celebrate one of Grafton's cultural hubs, the regional gallery, as its 'hometown' was officially declared a city on this day 125 years ago.

The celebration was the Grafton Regional Gallery's annual Foundation Dinner which attracted more than 120 supporters including representatives from state parliament, Clarence Valley Council, metropolitan-based major donors and art lovers from all corners of the Clarence Valley.

Special visitors included Sam and Janet Cullen, from Sydney, the family who purchased and donated the extraordinary Lindt collection to the gallery in 2004, and the guest speaker for the evening Member for New England Richard Torbay who shared a few anecdotes about his role as Speaker of the House including his controversial 'mute button' and the rewards of being a local member in a regional community.

A Lebanese banquet was enjoyed in honour of Mr Torbay's heritage while the Clarence Valley Conservatorium concert band and jazz duo SetE hit the right notes for this celebratory occasion.

In between courses a lively art auction conducted by Matt Dougherty was held featuring donated works by some of the country's most sought after artists.

The auction alone generated more than $10,000 in proceeds, the highlight being an original charcoal drawing by JADA winner and regular Archibald finalist Michael Zavros, which sold for more than $3000. The foundation's first release of a limited edition print by Doris O'Grady was also well received, the series of 20 selling out by the evening's end.

Foundation chair Kay Alden said the dinner was an outstanding financial success, with total fundraising for the evening approaching the $15,000 mark. It also gave Kay and the committee members great pleasure in announcing that the foundation, which has only been in existence for three and a half years, had surpassed the $100,000 mark in fundraising enabling the committee to commission its first work for the gallery.

A generous sum, courtesy of interest generated from the Foundation's core funds, will be offered to a regional or local artist to create an external sculpture for the gallery's street front garden - a contemporary work to balance the gallery's heritage feel.

And if this relatively new Gallery Foundation continues at this rate there will be more exciting opportunities for artists and the Clarence Valley community to come.

The foundation's next fundraising event is its Gate to Plate local food extravaganza - the inaugural gathering, initiated by the committee last year, is still being talked about.

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