AN extra 50 construction jobs will be created following the announcement of a funding boost to a $1.85 million upgrade of the Art Gallery of Ballarat.Regional and Rural Development Minister Jacinta Allan yesterday announced a $990,000 State Government grant to be used in conjunction with $860,000 from the City of Ballarat.The upgrade will include: * Extending the exhibition hall;* Relocating the gallery cafe and shop;* Better lighting and climate control;* Restoring the building's facade. Ms Allan said the government had allocating money to the gallery from the Regional Infrastructure Development Fund.``We recognised they (galleries) are iconic institutions that attract many visitors to our regions,'' she said. ``It will enable more people to enjoy the existing permanent works on display and bring many more tourists to the Ballarat region and create significant numbers of new jobs.''Ms Allan said there would continue to be opportunities for councils to match funds with state and federal governments.City of Ballarat cultural development manager Ron Egeberg said the gallery needed ongoing capital works because of its age. He said the top of the facade had been crumbling and would have led to safety issues in the future. There will be substantial work undertaken to reduce energy costs because of heating, cooling and lighting issues. Mr Egeberg said visitor numbers to the gallery had doubled since free entry was introduced. He said changes to the location of the gift shop aimed to maximise from the increased numbers. The cafe will also be moved to Lydiard St.Works to the facade will finish in July, while internal works will continue over the next six to nine months. The shop and cafe are expected to be relocated by the end of the year. Ballarat Mayor Judy Verlin said the funding boost allowed council to finish the upgrade. ``It's a responsibility of council, as custodians of these assets, that we put the investment into these buildings to ensure they are an ongoing legacy for future generations,'' Cr Verlin said.
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