chairmans report ~ August 2021

1. Annual General Meeting 2021

At our Annual General Meeting Board positions will be declared vacant and refilled. We will also be seeking additional people to get involved in subcommittees and work groups to advance many of the projects that are emerging. 

2. Gala Dinner 

The Gala Dinner was our biggest event to date to launch our fundraising Prospectus with more than 200 people attending on 22 May at the Moama Bowling Club. It was an opportunity to spread the word and engage with lots of people interested in the arts. Our thanks to Moama Bowling Club for underwriting the event through their Club Grants program which meant that we could plan and deliver a fabulous night with no financial risk.  

Guest speaker, Andrew Gaynor, was asked to talk about how the arts can enhance communities. He introduced us to a range of community-oriented innovative arts activities. His presentation is available on request.  

Sigrid Thornton and her husband, Tom Burstall’s participation arranged by Jacqui Berthaume helped to raise the profile of the event.  We very much appreciate their commitment to the project. Thanks also to Flash Fairlane Car Services for providing transport to our special guests, and Sweet Meadow and Endota Spa for providing vouchers for our special guests.

The generous donation of paintings by 14 local artists and very attractive prizes for the raffle plus the fine work by our auctioneers, John Moyle and Gary Wood, delivered a fabulous result with $35,000 raised.  Painting donors were: Pete Conroy, Jacqui Mott and Phillip Parsonson, Barbara Duke, Kristen Dyer, Lynne Gillard, Maryann Jenkins, Jill Kenley, Jon Lam, Veronica Lamb, Ros Main, Sue Raccanello, Kathleen Watson, Lisa Wilkinson and Lucila Zentner.

Thanks so much to Terry Dodds for acting as MC, and Uncle Des Morgan who provided the Welcome to Country.  Those who made donations of raffle ticket prizes were: The Kenley Family, JK Picture Framing, Madison Spa, Ludz and Coh, Echuca Leadlight Studio, Jan Hopper, Priceline Echuca.  The American Hotel and the Shamrock Hotel both donated wine for presents for all of our special guests. Our thanks also to Sticky Tickets for providing a reduction on the ticket administration and for the more than 200 people who attended.  

The final display of the Moama Lights set the mood for a great night on 22 May (for those who were able to secure tickets). What a fabulous display of Indigenous talent with a smoking ceremony, an address by Uncle Des Morgan, varied music and artworks by Indigenous artists.  Murray River Council is keen to see whether the event can be staged again.  We will provide support where we can.


3. Site Preparation of 74 Meninya Street    

The building on the site will need to be demolished.  Quotes have been obtained which are approximately $30,000.  Dumping fees for the waste are a significant proportion of that cost.  Council employs a private contractor to run the waste site, so requesting a reduction in the dumping fees has not been pursued.


4. Gallery Design

$6.9m was the estimate of the cost to build the gallery on Meninya St in the Masterplan. Our next objective is to finalise the design of the Meninya St gallery to advance our grant applications. Brandrick Architects are working with us to do that on a pro-bono basis. Ged Brandrick and his team did some early work on the project, and we thank them for their ongoing support for the project. The Brandrick team won the bid for the design of the new gallery in Swan Hill, which is now final. They therefore have relevant experience in this space. We hope to have a second draft of the plan for the AGM as the basis for a grant application due to be submitted by August 11 2021.


5. Grant Applications

We are going to be very dependent on attracting money from capital grants from Government and elsewhere to advance the project.  Most grants require a co-contribution of 25 to 50% by the applicant.  We therefore need to keep fundraising to build up our ‘war chest’.

A lot of effort has gone into grant applications across the year with submissions made to Murray River Council in March 2020 for business case development ; to Create NSW for the Under the Bridge Art Project in September 2020, the Balnaves Foundation in April 2021 for the Under the Bridge Art Project - all were unsuccessful. 

A further BBRF grant application lodged was lodged for Round V in April 2021.  The focus for was on drought relief and there was no mandatory co-funding requirement, so competition is going to be tough. The outcome is expected by November. The application for Club Grants to Moama Bowling Club in April 2021 for the Gala Dinner was successful and another application in mid-August 2021 will be made to Moama Bowling Club.

An application is being prepared by consultant, Katrina Tehan, for the building of the gallery to the NSW Government Regional Tourism Activation Fund which seeks to create “unique and high impact tourism and events infrastructure that helps to boost local economies, create jobs and ensure visitors to regional NSW have unforgettable experiences that encourage repeat visitation.” It is due in by 11 August.  We fit the criteria in spades, but there is much work to do before submission, including the development of architectural plans, quantity surveying and costing for the newly designed gallery. These are in progress. We continue to monitor grant opportunities as they arise and will pursue them where they are relevant.  

6. Social Media

J2 Content Creation have taken on the task of managing our social media activity which Jacqui Berthaume had established. You can find us on Facebook and Instagram where Jason and Jen from J2 have been busy posting a range of information relevant to the project. Please have a look and share the content with friends. All comments are welcome!

7. The Under The Bridge Art Project

One of the projects being pursued is the creation of artwork on the pylons beneath the railway near the soundshell in Moama. This is intended to provide an early taste of the work that will be undertaken later on the Bridge Art site proper. The process of dealing with the rail authorities (in this case VicTrack) has been protracted. We appreciate the recent support of Murray River Council to sign a lease governing the pylons. BAP will sign a sub-lease agreeing to cover insurance and any necessary maintenance and repair of the planned artwork.  Landscape architect David McCubbin has provided helpful assistance to develop the brief for the project. Further work will be needed with VicTrack engineers to find a way for the pylon surfaces to remain available for routine inspections. 


8. Elevated Walkway

The gallery site in Meninya St is separated from the 17.43 hectares of land closer to the river where further elements of the Project will be developed. In between lies some private land. The owners, Ros and Bill Main, have graciously permitted BAP to prepare a route through their property which will be established as a right-of-way. The elevated walkway connecting the two BAP properties will follow that route. Planright is working on preparing plans for Council on a pro bono basis, and we thank them for that help.

9. Dharnya Day

Dharnya day was held in Barmah by the Yorta Yorta on 7 July with some 300 people and Minister Lily D’Ambrosio in attendance. BAP provided a stand and spoke to people about the project.

10.Environmental Sustainability & Re/Up-cycling Opportunities 

Our founding Chairman, Barry Donchi’s vision for the project continues.  He also has excellent credentials in re-cycling and reclaiming timber, and spots an opportunity when it presents.  He has worked with the new bridge contractors, McConnell Dowell, who are building our neighbours new road (ie the new Echuca Moama Bridge Project) to secure timber and concrete offcuts and copper ‘shoes’ that we will be able to utilise in the Bridge Art precinct. 


Chris Bilkey


4 August 2021