GONE: One of the dramatic sculptures at last year’s artsCape Biennial sculpture exhibition held along the foreshore at Byron Bay. The art event will not go ahead in 2012.
GONE: One of the dramatic sculptures at last year’s artsCape Biennial sculpture exhibition held along the foreshore at Byron Bay. The art event will not go ahead in 2012.

Shock move for artsCape

IT drew more than 40,000 people to Byron Bay last year, but the popular artsCape Biennial sculpture exhibition planned for 2012 will not go ahead.

Citing the current financial environment and lack of public funding and sponsorship, artsCape board chairman Robert Bleakley said it was impossible to again mount this “world-class event”.

“It's a great shame that we have been forced to make this decision, given the success of artsCape Biennial in 2010 and the considerable pleasure it gave to thousands of local Byron Shire residents and visitors from far afield,” he said.

“It has been a tremendous asset to our community.”

artsCape Biennial 2010 was held on a 1.2km stretch of the Byron Bay foreshore over 16 days and featured 68 sculptures.

It was curated by Merran Morrison and Rebecca Townsend, both of whom were devastated at the decision to axe next year's show.

“This has not been a decision made in haste,” Rebecca said. “We have been discussing the issue for months, but trying to raise more than $200,000 to stage the sculpture show would have been very hard.

“We did not break even last year and, as curators, we are still owed money.”

Ms Townsend also said the process of getting the show approved by Byron Shire Council was “arduous”.

“We had to apply for a commercial licence and this costs money and it's a very involved process, which at times is very unclear and changes a lot,” she said.

“While we had great support from a number of councillors, our issue is with the policy and procedures.

“I have staged sculpture exhibitions at Tweed Heads and in Sydney, and they all went off without a hitch and with fantastic support from the respective councils.

“The decision not to stage next year's show in Byron Bay is very, very sad.”

President of Byron United Sevegne Newton said she was absolutely devastated at the news.

“To lose what was one of the best creative events ever put on in Byron Bay is just a major blow,” she said.

“It's certainly an indictment on the present economic difficulties but in light of also having lost Splendour In The Grass, well it's just a blow to the entire community.”

Byron Mayor Cr Jan Barham said she was a big supporter of artsCape and any other art event in the shire, but there was a concern when an event was held on public land.

“Council has to seek expressions of interest from everyone who may be affected by the event,” Cr Barham said.

The figures

artsCape Biennial in 2010 attracted 40,000 people and featured nearly 70 sculptures.


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