Building a National Centre for Photography in Ballarat

The Andrews Labor Government will establish a National Centre for Photography in Ballarat in a major Budget boost that will attract visitors, support jobs and strengthen the city’s standing as a leading cultural hub.

The Victorian Budget 2020/21 will invest $6.7 million to create the new centre, which will sit proudly alongside the Ballarat Art Gallery and the Post Office Gallery in what is fast becoming an iconic arts precinct for the city.

The National Centre for Photography will be Australia’s leading photographic destination and will bring to life the vision of the Ballarat International Foto Biennale, which has championed the creation of the centre since purchasing the 1860s heritage-listed Union Bank building on Lydiard Street.

The centre will include state of the art gallery spaces for major temporary exhibitions, opportunities for community artists to exhibit and a dedicated photobook library.

In line with Ballarat’s Creative City Strategy, the centre will be multi-functional – allowing for educational workshop spaces and an artist in residence program. Its curated public and education program will have the potential to attract thousands of new visitors to Ballarat.

It will attract local, domestic and international artists and visitors through innovative year-round programming and international networking and collaboration based on the hugely successful Ballarat International Foto Biennale event.

The project is estimated to generate $75.7 million in economic benefit across the next 15 years, bringing more than 54,000 visitors over two years.

Victoria’s Goldfields region contributed $1.4 billion to the state’s visitor economy to the year ending December 2019, with 5.7 million overnight visitors.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events Martin Pakula

“The Ballarat International Foto Biennale is one of Victoria’s iconic regional events and the National Centre for Photography will allow it to contribute to Ballarat’s economy and jobs strength year-round.”

“We want Victorians to get out and enjoy our state by taking their holidays in regional Victoria – that’s why we’re backing landmark regional institutions like this.” 

Quote attributable to Minister for Regional Development Jaclyn Symes

“Regional Victoria has so many talented creatives – projects like this not only attract visitors and keep the economy strong, they give artists a chance to show their work to large audiences.”

Quote attributable to Member for Wendouree Juliana Addison

“Ballarat’s reputation as a creative city will be greatly enhanced by this investment – congratulations to the Ballarat International Foto Biennale Artistic Director Fiona Sweet and the board.”

Quote attributable to Member for Buninyong Michaela Settle

“Ballarat has so much to offer visitors and the National Centre for Photography will create another great reason to visit. It will be a showcase for artists and a drawcard for visitors, creating jobs and strengthening our economy.” 

Quote attributable to Fiona Sweet Artistic Director of Ballarat International Foto Biennale

This is a very exciting day for the Ballarat International Photo Biennale and one that we have been working towards for well over 2 years. We are extremely grateful to the Andrews Government and to our local member Juliana Addison. This money is a real investment in culture – it directly supports the arts in Regional Victoria and will no doubt generate significant visitation to Ballarat. We secured the Union Bank building in 2018 with the support of private supporters and we wouldn’t be here today if they didn’t share the same vision we did. We are so pleased that the National Centre For Photography and its state-of-the art digital gallery space will become a reality.”

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