New Australian Pavilion at Venice Biennale has been given green light, with public and private support now exceeding $6 million for the project.

Last week a special reception was hosted by the Australia Council in Sydney where Minister for the Arts Tony Burke confirmed the Australian Government will contribute $1 million through the Australia Council.

At the reception, Australia Council Chair Rupert Myer praised key supporters of the much-anticipated redevelopment project:

 “The generous support received for the new Australian Pavilion ensures it is firmly on track to open as planned at the 56th International Art Exhibition in 2015. It promises to be a stunning and distinctive addition to the Venice Biennale landscape and an important addition to Australia’s cultural infrastructure,” Myer said.

The new Australian Pavilion, designed by Denton Corker Marshall, will be the first 21st century building in the historic Biennale Gardens. 

Application and development approvals are being progressed in Italy with the assistance of the authorities in the city of Venice and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The first breaking of ground on the project is currently scheduled to commence in December, with capital works expected to take approximately twelve months.

Burke acknowledged donors to the project and congratulated the architect for the new Pavilion, Denton Corker Marshall.

Burke said, “Australia’s creative and philanthropic community has once again shown their willingness to dig deep to support truly iconic works that symbolise Australia’s artistic creativity on a global stage. The Australian Government is delighted to partner with the many generous private supporters who have contributed to help this vision become a reality. ”

Denton Corker Marshall's design for the Australian Pavilion was revealed last year.

The private fundraising efforts for the new pavilion have been led by Australian Commissioner for the 2013 and 2015 Venice Biennales, Simon Mordant AM. Following an initial pledge of $1 million, the Mordant family increased its commitment to $2 million after seeing the selected design for the Pavilion.

 Significant contributions have also been pledged by the Belgiorno-Nettis family, as well as Allan Myers AO QC and Maria Myers AO, Andrew and Cathy Cameron, the Nelson Meers Foundation and an anonymous donor.

 The project is said to have also captivated the attention and support of Cate Blanchett and Andrew Upton, as well as Rachel Griffiths and her husband and visual artist Andrew Taylor, each of whom have been involved in opening previous Biennales in Venice for Australia.

“I gratefully acknowledge the donors for their outstanding generosity and philanthropic leadership for the Pavilion redevelopment project,” said Myer. “In particular, special thanks must go to Simon and Catriona Mordant. Their dedication and commitment to the arts in Australia is unrivalled and the success of this project is testament to their tireless commitment to fostering international interest in Australian artists.”

Mordant responded by saying, “Today’s announcement is a significant milestone and a clear indication that we are full steam ahead to open the new Pavilion as anticipated in 2015. I am sure I speak for all donors when I say I am thrilled and proud to see this extraordinary vision close to being realised. 

“The overwhelmingly positive response from the Federal Government, philanthropic and creative communities reflects a deep commitment to the Venice Pavilion and the excitement that surrounds the dynamic new design. Venice is the most important contemporary art and architecture exposition globally and Australia will be the focus of the world when this new Pavilion opens in 2015.” 

Guests at the announcement were also provided with a copy of a new publication, which celebrates the existing Australian Pavilion as designed by Australian architect Philip Cox. The publication includes details of each short listed and the winning designs for the new Pavilion. The book was co-published by the Australia Council and Australian Institute of Architects, honouring the contribution the existing Pavilion has made to the arts and architecture.