By ED SOUTHORN
CONSTRUCTION of the second stage of the Tweed's new art gallery at Greenhills near Murwillumbah could start as soon as 2006. Mayor Warren Polglase is keen for Tweed Shire Council to help extend the landmark, award-winning design building, which has exceeded attendance forecasts since it opened in February. Councillor Polglase yesterday said the art gallery's second stage was "definitely our focus", with funding coming possibly from the sale of the old art gallery building on the Tweed River at Murwillumbah. The Mayor said no decisions had yet been made on funding the new gallery's second stage. But sale of the old gallery could raise enough money to reduce Tweed Shire Council debt from the new gallery's first stage costs, as well as paying for the second stage, he said. "Attendance figures at the new gallery have gone through the roof and the cafeteria is doing very well," Cr Polglase said. "It might be a couple of years before we see some more construction, but it is important we set a goal," he said. Gallery director Gary Corbett said the gallery's portrait collection had expanded and diversified since the loss of the annual Doug Moran Portrait Prize. He said the gallery now needed more storage space and more gallery space, to allow the portrait collection to be properly displayed and to be able to stage regular temporary and travelling exhibitions. Mr Corbett said the new gallery building project had been split into two stages due to overall budget constraints and it would be more expensive now to build the second stage. "It is crucial we have enough storage for our ex- panding collection and for travelling exhibitions," he said. Mr Corbett said attention was already focused on completing the gallery's second stage and it was up to Council to decide how much money it could allocate to the project. Council contributed $2.45 million to stage one of the gallery, with $861,000 from bequests and donations, $330,000 from the Federal Government and $225,000 from the NSW Govern- ment.