Coffs Harbour City Councillors have voted to provide a 20-year lease on the Bunker Gallery site to allow the Bunker Cartoon Gallery Incorporated group to apply for grant funding for a major expansion of the historic facility.
Council directly managed the operation of the Cartoon Gallery and collection from 2006 until 2015 when the Bunker Cartoon Gallery Inc. group again took over the management of the facility and control of the cartoon collection.
Since that time, Council has been providing financial assistance through the payment of an annual subsidy, currently $65,000 a year, and looking after the maintenance of the structure.
The current two-year licence agreement had been due to end on June 30 2020. However, the Bunker Cartoon Gallery Inc. group, now operating as the National Cartoon Gallery, wrote to Council seeking a longer, 20-year lease so that it could pursue grant funding and other sources of finance for an historic cartoon exhibition valued at up to $2m.
Councillors agreed to the new lease and an annual rent of $3,281 a year plus GST. The rent amount was determined using Council’s Leasing and Licensing Policy for Community Organisations. The market rate would be $8,750, but Council will subsidise it at $5,468 a year.
The rental subsidy will further help the group to carry out the proposed development of the site.
Council will also continue to pay the annual subsidy of $65,000 until June 30, 2020.