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Byron Shire
April 18, 2021

Council’s cultural and arts policy delayed

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Despite public outrage over Council’s $50,000 ‘Disco Dong’, an overhaul of Council’s cultural and arts policy was pushed back at last week’s Council meeting, again, despite efforts by Cr Jan Hackett (Labor).

Greens mayor Simon Richardson took umbrage at her motion, which noted there were ‘no direction priorities in place for spending in the cultural domain.’

Cr Hackett’s motion also recognised that ‘current spending in the cultural domain is being delivered without community sanction and, in many cases, benefit’.

The mayor was visibly annoyed and lectured Cr Hackett over criticising Council. 

He called the motion ‘inflammatory and inaccurate,’ and told Cr Hackett, ‘It’s a shame you decided to smack into Council because you couldn’t get your way. You can’t say “give us the money”.

I spent a lot of time going through budget to find $100,000 [for an arts policy co-ordinator]. I’m trying to create a win.’

It later emerged that Council’s art policy is outdated and only deals with Aboriginal art. Drafting a new policy has been put back because it’s not seen as core business, Cr Hackett said.

Cr Hackett added, ‘It upsets me that we get no bang for our buck with our spending; instead we get criticism and derision… the contract for the Bayshore Drive sculpture was full of holes…’ Eventually councillors voted for the funding to be sourced at a later stage.

Meanwhile, a new petition up on change.org (bit.ly/2FLaVJD) is calling for the removal of the Disco Dong sculpture, located on Bayshore Drive roundabout. 

The last online petition calling for its removal in December attracted nearly 2,900 signatures.

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  1. And the real cost of the 2nd rate copy of a much finer similar English sculpture has never been revealed. The ?? Council cost of erection and the subsequent $45,000 cost of clearing off vines is on top of the $50,000 artist fee.
    Are we up to $200,000 so far with further $45,000 costs of each road blocking for each maintenance? And on the fraud of a 30% Rate increases that ” is only sufficient to maintain our infrastructure”. And the further $80,000 sculpture for Railway Park has been “put on hold” – put on hold till till Council hopes the furor has died down and they can slip it in.

  2. Mayor Simon Richardson degrades himself and his personalised attack on Councillor Jan Hackett. who is unquestionably well qualified in visual arts management (at NSW state level). His response to a well formulated Arts Policy that will bring Byron Shire up to the well established arts policies of other Northern Rivers shires is not only tardy, it lacks conviction or enthusiasm for what should be central to Byron Shire cultural life, not only for its own community but for the millions of tourists who flock to Byron for their glimpse of what Byron has to offer them.

  3. Despite public ignorance over public art and Council’s ignorance of the right place to put it, the $50,000 sculpture and the overhaul of Council’s cultural and arts policy was left in a roundabout way without a brush of paint at last week’s Council meeting, yet again, despite Labor Cr Jan Hackett’s big-hearted efforts to make some progress.

  4. I have listened to some abysmal chairing of meetings by our mayor but his treatment of Cr Hacket was the pits. She was perfectly entitled to refer to the directionless nature of arts spending – she’s spot on, particularly the out-of-nowhere near doubling of allocation to the ‘Lone Goat Gallery’. Aka the BB library community and exhibition space its transformation has been a joke.

    I was shocked that no councillors thought to call him with a point of order, even move a motion of no confidence.


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