Special Council Meeting – 27 February 2020

In this post I’ll summarise both of Council’s steps to support ‘Sculpture by the Sea‘. These occured both at this ‘SCM’ called for that purpose, and the February “OCM”.

In summary, Council approved $70,000 in direct support to “SxS” in 2020, and the procurement of traffic management and provision of extra toilets . The key outcome I successfully pushed for was for this $70K not to “wipe out” the ‘Sculpture Acquisition Fund’ we use to buy an artwork from SxS, which was the initial proposal of where the $70K would come from.

I was able to work together with other Councillors (Crs Barrett and Young in particular) to preserve the ‘Sculpture Acquisition Fund’ at a minimum of $37,000, and potentially as high as $50,000 if certain conditions are fulfilled. I was very pleased with what I see as a “win-win”: direct support for SxS as an event AND direct support for the artists who are so central to SxS.

Why? Because Artists are the basis on which events like this succeed and excel – whether it be SxS, Fringe or Perth Festival, they rely on the artists themselves taking risks both creatively and financially. But, despite this, Artists are often overlooked or left to fend for themselves against the odds.

I was very encouraged to see other Councillors understand what may be common misconception, that SxS artists are not paid to create work, nor exhibit at SxS, and most are trying to sustain careers out of their art (it’s rarely a hobby!!), and so removing incentives for artists at events like SxS strikes at the heart of the event. Ultimately, it means the event suffers, in terms of the quality or scale of work artists will submit, and in turn we as the audience miss out – miss out on the enjoyment, excitement and inspiration we get from events like SxS. Many Councillors (and perhaps the public) were not aware most SxS artists carry their own costs of installation and de-install, adding to the risk of creating and exhibiting and loss if works aren’t bought. The Artist’s work is not only central, they are in effect ‘funders’!

As a result, preserving the Town’s ability to purchase an Artist’s work from SxS 2020 is vital in my view to sustaining the event, and supporting artists. Whilst the Town may only buy 1 sculpture, and this may not seem much, in fact, one single acquisition matters a great deal to one artist, who is of course only looking for just one buyer! As I said to Councillors: “every one counts!”.

As part of my role on Council’s “Art Panel”, we’re currently looking at works we may acquire within our budget, and which can add greatly to our local amenity and quality of life. It is proving so far to be quite a difficult choice!

Separately, I was unfortunately unable to persuade Councillors that linking our $70K to the SxS’s “Enjoy” fundraising would assist SxS raising funds to itself contribute directly to artist’s installation or de-install costs – despite my proposal of a mechanism to do this, other Councillors preferred to just grant the funding. Whilst I was disappointed we couldn’t do more, I’m hopeful the “Enjoy” fundraising can be boosted in other ways, and as much as possible ensure that not only is the event supported, but so are its exhibiting artists.

I strongly encourage you to donate to SxS’s “Enjoy” fundraising, which will go (in SxS words):

The first of the funds collected from the entry by voluntary contributions will cover the artists’ costs of installing the sculptures; followed by the cost of staging of the event; and then, if enough is raised, towards the freight costs of artists who do not sell their sculptures.”

And, it goes without saying – please go along and support ‘Sculpture by the Sea 2020 at Cottesloe Beach‘ (and observe current public health guidelines).

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