Tragedy has turned into hope for the small regional town of Castlemaine, Victoria, whose art gallery has been saved from bankruptcy by a couple of Melbournites earlier this week. The gallery, a prized gem of the town, had been failing to make a profit for the last few years and had readied themselves to shut up shop on the 11 August, before this dire fate was averted by an anonymous subsidy of $250,000.
The gallery had become a favorite of the couple, and many other visitors who frequented the rural destination, for its distinct permanent collection that included significant artworks by some of Australia’s highest grade talents like Frederick McCubbin and Arthur Streeton, mixed in with artifacts relating to the gold rush era of nearby towns like Balart. In addition to their storied permanent collection, the Castlemaine art museum has hosted exhibitions from prominent Australian artist Ben Quilty.
News of the donation was music to the ears of the 400 members of the gallery that showed up to meet on the premises on Wednesday night earlier this week. The donation, which was organised through Sotheby’s has already encouraged a further $50,000 from the Macfarlane family that will help deal with the rising operation costs of the 105 year old institution.
Whilst financial assistance like this was essential if the organisation wished to maintain operations, the gallery desperately needs a shift in branding and business structure in order to relieve the stress of an organisation that would have fallen $400,000 of the funding necessary for the 2017-2018 financial year. Museum chairwoman Jan Savage commented on this during an interview with the Australian, saying, “We’re looking at how we can reinvigorate our gallery. At the end, what we want is a 21st-century art museum for the region that’s nestled between Melbourne, Bendigo and Ballarat and is different from them all.”
It is for this reason that the philanthropists see their donation as an investment, hoping to prompt additional support from the community. The couple’s admirable dedication to reinstating the gallery to it’s original standing is prevalent as they commit to further supplementing funds to the museum to support exhibitions during this time. These intentions were revealed in a statement through Sotheby’s.