The New England Regional Art Museum faces an uncertain financial future.
One of the gallery's main funding sources, the Margaret Olley Art Trust, will cease on July 1, 2020. This trust has provided $118,000 each year for staffing costs since 2012.
"This is an impending and critical funding concern for NERAM," former chairman Andrew Murray told council on Wednesday night.
"Without a viable replacement, this deficit will jeopardise our current operation and staffing structure, and, by extension, our capacity to deliver high value programmes."
Mr Murray requested Armidale Regional Council to increase its annual funding to NERAM by $150,000 a year - a total contribution of $488,000 a year - starting on July 1, 2020.
He also wanted to adjust the gallery's 20-year funding agreement with council allowing it to be renewed or rolled over after 10 years, to avoid a one- or two-year period of uncertainty.
"This will give council some breathing space, and provide NERAM with the certainty that we need to make forward commitments," he said.
NERAM is independent from, but supported by, council - unlike most regional galleries, which are council-owned, run, and funded. Compared to such galleries, Mr Murray said, it receives 40 per cent less of its total operational budget from council.
The museum, according to Mr Murray, is run more like a small business than a semi-government entity. Its foundation pays four per cent of invested funds back to the museum each year - $36,000 in 2019.
If council had to resume control of NERAM, as it had before 2008, Mr Murray warned, the cost to council would more than double.
"This is an unlikely scenario," he said, "but our existing and successful model cannot be starved of essential operating funds if it's to keep serving NERAM, council, and the community."
The art gallery, Mr Murray said, also generated tourism. 54,000 people visited NERAM in 2018: 74 per cent came from outside Armidale; 33 per cent interstate; and eight per cent from overseas. He estimated NERAM's annual economic contribution to Armidale's revenue was $3.86 million each year.
"We want to continue to work with council to ensure that NERAM has the required funding and resources to maintain a productive operation, safe custody of our art treasures, viable staffing structure, and levels of sustainable growth," Mr Murray said.