The announcement in April 2019 of a Commonwealth Budget commitment of $22 million to Bundanon Trust to enable the realisation of its Riversdale development bookended a year of remarkable achievement, the NSW Government having announced $8.529 million towards the project on 30 June the previous year.
This was an extraordinary team effort. We acknowledge the support and advocacy of countless individuals in the business community across the Shoalhaven region, and among politicians of all persuasions, amplifying the message that this was a timely project of national importance. The $31 million development will see the realisation of a decade of planning and enable Bundanon to take its place more fully at the national table, with a state-of-the-art contemporary art gallery, fabulous visitor services and expansive accommodation for residential creative education.
Our outgoing Minister for Communications and the Arts, Mitch Fifield lent his support alongside all the candidates for the seat of Gilmore in the April Federal election, including our newly elected Member Fiona Phillips MP. Our outgoing Federal Member Ann Sudmalis MP, former Gilmore representatives Joanna Gash AM and John Sharp AM, and past Bundanon Chairman Warwick Smith AO were passionate supporters providing invaluable advice. Shoalhaven City Council, its Mayor Amanda Findley, outgoing General Manager Russ Pigg and newly appointed General Manager Stephen Dunshea, along with Anthony Body, A/Executive Director, Regional NSW, Department of Premier and Cabinet, have worked tirelessly to assist the Trust to achieve the right circumstances for the project to proceed smoothly.
The campaign for the project was stewarded by the former Vice Chancellor of the University of Wollongong, Professor Gerard Sutton AO, who chaired the Masterplan Sub-committee for five years until May 2019. We thank him and the others on the Sub-committee, Board members Sam Edwards, Tony Emery and Anne Flanagan, for their dedication and diligence in achieving this result. Anne Flanagan continues her oversight of the Masterplan for Riversdale as the Chair of the development’s Project Control Group (PCG), where she is also joined by Board members Sam Edwards and Mark Tucker.
We are indebted to the remaining Bundanon Trust voluntary Board members: Professor Paul Wellings and Holly Byrne, and the independent Chair of our Audit and Risk Committee, KPMG Partner David Willcocks. All have carried an enormous responsibility this year and have lent a substantial amount of time and expertise to Bundanon.
We have renewed our long-standing partnership with the University of Wollongong for a further three years until 2021 as our shared objectives and commitment to making a difference in the region continues to grow. Our eight-year relationship with partners Landcare Australia was also renewed this year for a further three-year term and we look forward to their continuing guidance in the stewardship of our significant landscape responsibilities. The Trust is also grateful for its cohort of dedicated and longstanding donors, as well as new supporters who have joined us this year. They have generously embraced the Masterplan, kickstarting our campaign of raising $3 million for this development, as well as important ongoing activities such as our Education and Residency programs. We look forward to growing this important group as we move towards opening our new facilities and expanding our programs in the future.
Create NSW has continued to invest in our arts programs, this year supporting our First Nations Residency Program bringing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists across every artform to stay on the properties and develop new contemporary works. They have also supported our Bundanon Local program which engages Shoalhaven residents in creative endeavour. This year we have appreciated the guidance of senior staff representatives from Create Infrastructure on the Masterplan PCG.
The Trust remains grateful to the Australian Government for their ongoing support over twenty- six years. Without their commitment to Bundanon we would be unable to open this unique Australian asset in regional Australia to the public. We thank the outgoing Minister for Communications and the Arts Mitch Fifield and the staff at the Department of Communications and the Arts for their dedication and sound advice. We greatly look forward to working with our new Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP over the coming twelve months and beyond. The Trust also benefits from the Department’s National Cultural Institutions Touring and Outreach program, the Australia Council for the Arts and Inspiring Australia.
This year has been filled with much anticipation but also uncertainty. The Trust’s staff have remained committed and professional in their day to day work throughout this time. They are the company’s greatest asset and will now have the opportunity to see their aspirations realised as they contribute to the shaping of Bundanon’s expanding future operation. The Trust’s CEO Deborah Ely AM has demonstrated great commitment in leading the company’s day to day business while simultaneously prosecuting the vision for an ambitious Bundanon through the realisation of the Masterplan for Riversdale.
Our architect Kerstin Thompson and her team, working closely with our project managers Capital Project Control, have done a remarkable job over the past year in detailing this bold new infrastructure project for the Riversdale site. Its beauty and functionality will deliver fantastic benefits to the Trust and the region on completion.
We look forward to the start of construction in 2020 and sharing the story of Bundanon’s revitalisation with the arts community, our friends, neighbours and stakeholders over the coming twelve months.