The sigh of relief could be heard all the way up to the top of Queen's Park and back.

Six million dollars from the Lottery Grants Board for the Sarjeant Gallery redevelopment - every last cent asked for.

A huge vote of confidence that pushes the fundraising target so close you can almost touch it.

Just $3 million, give or take change, to go ... what a few years ago seemed a boldly ambitious, even foolhardy, undertaking is closing in on a wonderful conclusion.


The Chronicle has been proud to support this endeavour from the early days because, even though there was no guarantee of success, we could see the significant gains for the town if it could be pulled off.

While the culture vultures will be quietly licking their lips, the art-sceptics will still insist they won't be visiting an expanded and upgraded gallery any time soon. But they should think on this.

A $35 million development in the heart of Whanganui means jobs and a shot in the arm for the local economy; a rejuvenated Sarjeant and enhanced standing in the art world means a boost in visitor numbers and the dollars that come with them.

Yes, ratepayer funds have gone into this project but, over the years, that will be repaid many times over.

Credit goes to many for the progress so far, but perhaps particularly to Nicola Williams who put her hand up to spearhead the mammoth fundraising effort - and didn't mind if people thought she was mad.

So just the final three mill to go ... possibly a chance for some flush philanthropist to make a name for themselves, clinch the deal and claim the naming rights for the gallery.