Art Gallery of SA director Nick Mitzevich is urging the State Government to invest $250 million in the new gallery.

Nick Mitzevich, Director of the Art Gallery of South Australia, is spearheading a campaign to establish a contemporary art gallery in the heart of Adelaide. The purpose built facility, which would be located near the Adelaide Festival Centre, could attract as many as half a million visitors to South Australian capital annually, providing a valuable economic boost, Mitzevitch insists, although an investment of $250 million from the State Government would be required.

In an interview with the ABC, Mitzevich cited numerous international examples of cities that had used the popularity of contemporary art to boost tourism, create job opportunities and bolster local economies. “Immediately [building a gallery] would create more than 1000 construction jobs, in the medium term it would attract new business in and around the site to develop restaurants and cafes and a variety of other commercial enterprises,” he said.

However, Mitzevich’s proposal comes at a time of financial instability for South Australia’s arts community. Rumours of proposed cuts to the Adelaide Festival’s 2017 budget were revealed to be true two weeks ago when SA Arts Minister Jack Snelling confirmed that a reduction in the State’s funding of the Festival of $1 million would be in effect from next year.

Other Adelaide based arts organisations, such as Australian Dance Theatre and the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, have also experienced reductions in their State subsidy in recent years. However, Mitzevich believes that investments in new ventures, such as the proposed contemporary art gallery, are the State’s best hope for changing its economic circumstances. “When there are challenging times, we need to develop many different ways of solving the economic and social issues the state has,” he said.

Minister Snelling has said the proposal for the new gallery would be given serious consideration, but also conceded that the State’s budget had a number of competing beneficiaries.