Sculpture by the Sea refuses to commit to Bondi beyond 2020

The organisers of Sculpture by the Sea are refusing to commit to staging the free-to-the-public annual sculpture walk at Bondi beyond 2020.

The organisers rejected Waverley Council’s terms to stage until 2030, instead signing a one year licence on October 11.

Negotiations are still continuing, but the main point of contention is a clause requiring the organisers to accept the coastal walkway “as is”, removing council’s responsibility for consultation where changes affect artists who have spent months and their own money planning sculptural works.

The council’s stated contribution of $150,000 annually towards Sculpture by the Sea via in-kind and grant support is also being questioned.

Event director David Handley said the bright red and blue flooring used on a new outside fitness bay visually obscures three sites.

“Waverley Council is acting as if we are a Sunday school egg and spoon race, with all great respect to Sunday schools,” Handley told The Sydney Morning Herald.

“This is about the artists, what inspires them and what they give to the rest of us at their cost. If we take away what inspires the artists as night follows day the artists won’t submit major works or want to exhibit next to things like the gyms.”

Historically, Sculpture by the Sea has struggled to secure financial support to cover the artists’ costs such as fabrication and freight, setting artists back $18,000 each on average, according to Handley.

The multi-year funding by Australia Council that covers heavy equipment costs of installation lapses after next year’s event, with the organisers told not apply for the next round funding from 2021.

The free exhibition attracts about 450,000 visitors each year.