By ALLISON HORE
Due to COVID-19 restrictions on mass gatherings the popular Sculptures by the Sea art event will not be going ahead as planned this year.
The event was slated to run from Thursday 22 October 2020 to Sunday 8 November along the Bondi to Tamarama coastal walk. But current restrictions of 20 people to a gathering “rule out” the event, David Handley, founder of Sculptures by the Sea told The Sun-Herald.
With more than 100 Australian and international artists having spent at least $1.5 million collectively to create and freight their artworks, Mr. Handley had hoped the event would go ahead as planned.
“It was very important to wait and see if there was any chance we could proceed with this year’s exhibition as planned,” Mr. Handley said.
“Now, like everyone, we are waiting to see what might be possible, being mindful that everyone’s health comes first.”
The annual event, which sells itself as “the world’s largest annual free-to-the-public outdoor sculpture exhibition”, typically attracts over 500,000 visitors over the course of its run.
Although restrictions on mass gatherings have been relaxed and stadium events will be allowed to run at half capacity, Mayor of Waverley, Paula Masselos said it would be extremely hard to control the number of visitors to the Sculptures by the Sea event which is traditionally free and un-ticketed.
Ms. Masselos said that the council’s aim is to “keep our public spaces open for the safe enjoyment of the entire community”, which would rule out closing off the many entryways to the Bondi to Tamarama coastal walk during the exhibition.
But there is still a chance the event may go ahead this year. Mr. Handley said that the NSW Government has indicated it was “open to considering an exemption for us if social distancing could be maintained”. He indicated that the event could go ahead as soon as mid-November, be postponed until mid-April 2021 or be “rolled over” until next October.
“Sculpture by the Sea is working closely with the Council on options for an exhibition that ensures safe attendance,” Ms. Masselos said in a statement.
“Council manages its outdoor public places including its parks and the Bondi to Tamarama Coastal Walk in line with current Public Health Orders and the latest health advice, so this will be a determining factor when reviewing potential dates for the 2020 exhibition.”
Mayor Masselos says she appreciates the efforts that the artists have put into creating the artworks even if they will not be able to be displayed this year. She said she looks forward to attending the next event “in whatever form it needs to take to ensure safe attendance”.
“I really appreciate and applaud the effort and dedication that the artists have put into creating works for the exhibition during these difficult and challenging times,” said Ms Masselos.