Less than a month before the 2021 event, organisers have been forced to pull the pin on the popular Sculpture for Clyde nine-day art festival on the NSW South Coast.
Initially run by the Batemans Bay Tourism and Business Chamber in partnership with Willinga Park, Sculpture for Clyde features creations from famous and local sculptors and usually attracts thousands of people to Bawley Point.
With a prize purse of more than $60,000, Sculpture for Clyde has become an important event on the South East Arts calendar and has provided the basis for the ever-growing Sculpture Walk along the Clyde River foreshore in Batemans Bay.
Organised by a small group of volunteers, the festival began in 2016 as an idea to build infrastructure and attract tourists to Batemans Bay during the quiet winter months.
The then Batemans Bay Chamber of Commerce President David McLaughlin had the idea of finding sponsorship for a substantial acquisitive first prize, ensuring world-class entries in the competition.
The initial event was held on the foreshore near Innes Boatshed and in an adjacent empty shop front, the Francis Guy heritage building. It was successful beyond the wildest dreams or organisers.
In recent years, it’s been held at Canberra businessman Terry Snow’s world-class equestrian park north of Batemans Bay.
This year it was to be run for the first time as a stand-alone event but COVID-19 threw a spanner in the works.
Mr McLaughlin said uncertainty around regulations and restrictions made it impossible to proceed.
“About 20 per cent of our sculpture entries were coming from hotspots,” he said.
“They couldn’t get them out and install them – it just wouldn’t have worked.
“It’s a real shame – we had more entries than ever before and some of the student sculptor entries were the best I’ve seen.”
Despite the setbacks, Mr McLaughlin said the festival would be back, “bigger and better” next year.
COVID-19 has also forced organisers of the Sculpture@Shaw exhibition in the paddocks at Shaw Wines in Murrumbateman, to make changes.
The biennial prize, with a combined purse of $65,000, is presented by Shaw Wines in partnership with Belco Arts and the inaugural event was to be held last year. The pandemic caused that to be pushed back to September 2021 but now organisers have been forced to make the difficult decision to postpone again.
Due to the potential for ongoing travel restrictions for Sydney and Victoria-based finalists, the event will now be held from 5 to 19 March 2022.
Belco Arts creative producer Shan Crosbie said it was a frustrating but necessary move.
“We are looking forward to a nice autumn show,” she said.
“It’s frustrating not to go ahead but we have all our finalists locked in for next year.
“All the rain lately has been another complicating factor given it’s a paddock exhibition.”