Funding for the 2024 running of an annual arts event on the NSW South Coast may be pulled after questions were raised by some Eurobodalla Shire councillors.
Sculpture for Clyde, returning for its fifth year in 2024, comprises outdoor, indoor and student sculpture exhibitions, as well as various prize categories.
The winning sculpture in the Acquisitive Prize is also selected to join the Sculpture Walk on the Batemans Bay foreshore.
The event is now under threat following actions by three Eurobodalla councillors, who have questioned whether the event is suitable for the council funding.
Crs Rob Pollock, Peter Diskon and Alison Worthington together moved a Notice of Rescission, to be discussed in an extraordinary meeting of the council.
The trio is calling for the rescission of a decision from its 21 November meeting, where $20,000 in funding was awarded and venue hire fees were waived for Sculpture for Clyde in 2024.
The extraordinary meeting will be held tomorrow afternoon (Tuesday, 5 December).
Speaking late on Friday (1 December), Sculpture for Clyde director David Maclachlan said the motion felt like “a kick in the guts”.
“Local artists are doing it tough now and small businesses are doing it tough down the coast at the moment, and tourism is doing it tough,” he said.
“The last thing we need is for some council to be signalling to them that they’re going to withdraw funding from the arts – and effectively withdrawing funding from artists.”
The venue hire fees for the 10-day event would amount to an extra expense of “8000 and something dollars”, Mr Maclachlan said.
“My view is that I’ve not been contacted by them [the councillors],” he said.
“Sometimes you need more information than what is being presented to them in council and the best way to get that information is straight from the person who’s got that information.”
Mr Maclachlan said the event had become known as a tourist attraction for the region, drawing visitors to the Eurobodalla’s restaurants, hotels and other businesses.
“There’s a clear return on investment for the ratepayer in our event,” he said.
“We sold $140,000-odd of sculptures, and a lot of that went to locals.”
Mr Maclachlan said the news came shortly after event organisers increased the prize money for their Acquisitive Awards from $60,000 to $100,000.
“The $100,000 sculpture award [the Acquisitive Prize] is almost unheard of in regional Australia,” he said.
“We’ve stretched ourselves in what we have financially and work-wise for that prize.
“We give a sculpture to the council and none of the money that they give us actually goes towards the prize.”
Cr Worthington said she had put her name to the motion because of her concerns around process.
“I’m supporting Cr Pollock and Cr Diskon’s Rescission Motion on that general manager’s report about funding for the Sculpture for Clyde event on the basis of process concerns, particularly some concerns around adherence to the code of meeting practice,” she said.
“Secondly, [there are] funding concerns whereby we have an active and current events strategy and framework and community grants policy.
“We seem to be acting outside of it and varying from it considerably, when those strategies and frameworks have not been repealed.”
The extraordinary meeting will be held on Tuesday (5 December) from 2 pm.
Sculpture for Clyde will be held at the Batemans Bay foreshore from 25 May to 2 June, 2024.