A $28 million redevelopment of the Bendigo Art Gallery would pay for itself thirteen times over, if a newly released business case is correct.
And a bigger price tag up front could bring a better pay off later on, City of Greater Bendigo staff have told councillors ahead of a key funding vote.
They have backed a newly-released business case that found a gallery revamp could bring in another 60,000 people per annum.
That would mean a 30 per cent jump on existing visitor numbers.
More news: Bendigo COVID-19 numbers continue to climb
Council staff suggest a renovation would be a windfall for Bendigo's tourism industry, which relies in part on the gallery to help attract visitors, the business case assumes - especially if the Bendigo Art Gallery keeps attracting a new "blockbuster" exhibition every three years for two decades.
However, the business case assumes that those with the purse strings are willing to invest in the most expensive option available.
Its authors had previously considered three other options including a "modest upgrade" of $15 million. That option was the cheapest, with others costing $20 million and $25 million.
Business case authors have recommended a modified version of that lastoption in which a roof-top bar and restaurant is swapped for a ground floor cafe opening onto Rosalind Park and builders add no additional storage space.
The council and gallery are currently exploring off-site storage options for Bendigo's growing art collection.
The preferred option would include a "place of keeping" for Dja Dja Wurrung cultural items, a first floor for blockbuster exhibitions, a new learning centre with a children's gallery and between six and seven other galleries to expand the gallery's footprint by at least 700 metres squared.
It would also have a new forecourt and landscaping on View Street with an informal gathering space, a new or refurbished cafe opening onto Rosalind Park, new amenities and office space.
The preferred option also includes a new "high efficiency, sustainable solution mechanical plant system" to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions and running costs.
The business case has been released ahead of Monday's council meeting, when councillors will decide whether to invest a maximum $3 million in the project.
The business case would then be pitched to other potential stakeholders including other levels of government and philanthropists.
The gallery itself has already earmarked $2.5 million for the project.
Councillors have been told that the $28 million option would include a $3 million contingency.
The gallery wants to be one of the nation's leading art institutions but is currently held back by limited space, a report prepared by council staff ahead of the meeting says.
"Historically, the gallery has developed on an as-needs basis, which has resulted in spaces being added onto existing buildings and designed to minimize cost and adapt best to what has been previously developed," it says.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content: