Sculpture by the Sea 2019

10 July 2019.

Waverley Council's focus in upgrading Marks Park has been on improving amenities for the community and providing access and facilities for those with accessibility needs that meet our obligations under Australian law.

We are proud of this focus, and wish to reiterate the following in response to claims made by Sculpture by the Sea in the media today.

Council is very surprised by the suggestion that a world-class event such as Sculpture by the Sea would be jeopardised by an accessible path that occupies less than 5% of Marks Park in the context of an event that occupies the entire length of our coastal walk from Bondi to Tamarama Beach.

Marks Park is first and foremost a vital local park. It plays host to Sculpture by the Sea for a month of the year. Council has supported Sculpture by the Sea for the past 23 years.

In 2018, Council's estimated contribution was in excess of $145,000 including traffic ($65,000), remediation ($50,000 ), event fee waived ($35,000) and grants ($16,000) including $5000 for 'Tactile Tours'. Council also contributes $5000 for the ‘Mayor’s Prize’.

The decision on the best location in Sydney for Sculpture by the Sea is rightly a decision for the organisers. Council’s view is that services for people with disabilities outweighs some inconvenience and potential aesthetic impact over a small portion of the Sculpture by the Sea event which will still be free to use the park.

Council has had significant contact with various Sculpture by the Sea representatives over the park upgrade and accessibility path over the past few years, including with the organisation’s then Chief Executive. Feedback received from Sculpture by the Sea representatives helped inform our plans for the pathway, and consultation for the project

During the design process, the location of the accessible path considered the principles of universal access, connection to key park attractions, the experience of passing through the landscape, views and minimising visual impact which was of importance to local residents, other park users and uses and cost of construction.

A range of alternative options were explored, including those raised by Sculpture by the Sea. The final path design best meets the objectives of the principles mentioned above. An alternative pathway Sculpture refers to is about making the coastal walk accessible from Notts Avenue to Marks Park around the headland. It is not about accessibility within Marks Park linking the headland, amenities, and playground.

We do not accept the assertion that Sculpture by the Sea will have to relocate because of our accessible pathway. In order to minimise the impact on the Sculpture by the Sea event, the design team reviewed the historic location of sculptures across Marks Park for over 10 years and the actual walking routes from last year’s event. The path was then located where the least number or no sculptures were previously placed, so we suspect the impact is being overstated.

In regards to safety and weather conditions: Council has reviewed risk reports provided by Sculpture by the Sea. There will be no greater risk from people being on the path than there is from people being on grass/turf in the same location. The risk emerges from people being there at all and is accentuated by them being there in large numbers for events like Sculpture by the Sea. The risks identified are therefore ones for the event organiser to manage in line with best practice event risk management.  Weather and wind conditions are among the risk factors to be managed.

Waverley Council has advised Sculpture by the Sea that the accessibility path has been designed to meet Australian Standards and The Australian Human Rights Commission (2013) Advisory Note on Streetscapes, public outdoor areas, fixtures, fittings and furniture, Australian Standard AS1428 Standards for Access, AS2156 Walking Tracks for the safety of all users.

- Ross McLeod, General Manager, Waverley Council