ARMIDALE Regional Council has agreed to wipe $100,000 off the city’s art museum bill but under a new loan agreement.
An agreement tabled will see the New England Regional Art Museum pay back more than $52,000 in outstanding debts for the council to write-off the remainder.
Administrator Ian Tiley said the action was an investment into culture and tourism of the community.
“It was a move to show that we value NERAM as a really important component of our social fabric,” Dr Tiley said. “It’s a gesture to all of the community and about giving NERAM a fresh start to continue doing their wonderful projects.”
Between July 2006 and June 2016, the Armidale Community Cultural Reserve Trust responsible for the museum had repaid more than $300,000 to the council with $152,472.97 outstanding.
The administrator said the tipping point for the decision was the weight of the outstanding debt forcing the not-for-profit facility to sell works from their collection to make repayments.
“There are some absolutely brilliant works in there and these people need support,” Dr Tiley said.
The agreement will see Council’s operational plan and budget go into deficit, however, Dr Tiley said there would be a range of measures put in place to ensure Council would not feel the pinch of the arrangement.
“It will put the general funding deficit out by $602,000 for the year ahead but I have said to staff that we will eliminate that by the end of June 2017,” he said.
“It’s relatively minor in the context of the entire budget but we also look at other options throughout the year to close the gap.”
NERAM director Robert Heather said the arts organisation was thrilled at opportunity to reset their relationship with the Council.
“Council is our biggest stakeholder and the whole debt has created an issue which we are happy to see resolved,” Mr Heather said.
“We have had to sell parts of the collection which causes a hazard for our reputation in the art world.”