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Sydney's Super-Popular 'Sculpture by the Sea' Has Been Postponed for 2020

"Due to current public health orders limiting mass outdoor gatherings", the event will instead take place either later this year or early in 2021.
By Sarah Ward and Samantha Teague
September 27, 2020
By Sarah Ward and Samantha Teague
September 27, 2020

When October rolls around each year, the two-kilometre Bondi–Tamarama coastal walk usually becomes home to a huge free outdoor sculpture exhibition, with the always busy Sculpture by the Sea placing its latest works along the shoreline. But in 2020, that will no longer be the case, with the popular event announcing that it won't be taking place in its normal time slot.

Back in April, organisers actually advised the exact opposite, confirming that the event would forge ahead as usual. Of course, as 2020 has taught us again and again, a lot can change in just a few months. Revealing the delay today, Sunday, September 27, Sculpture by the Sea Founding Director David Handley AM advised that "due to current public health orders limiting mass outdoor gatherings" the event can not happen from October 22–November 8 as planned. In 2019, the Sculpture by the Sea attracted approximately 450,000 visitors over three weeks, with crowds that size obviously posing a sizeable social distancing problem in 2020.

Accordingly, Sculpture by the Sea and the Waverley Council are looking into potential new dates for either later this year or early in 2021. "We are continuing to work with the Council and NSW Government agencies, including NSW Health on reviewing all options for an exhibition that will ensure safe attendance," noted Handley.

Sculpture by the Sea 2019 by Trent Van der Jagt

Already, more than 100 Australian and international artists have not only created their sculptures, but — for those located overseas — sent them to Australia from around the world. That's why the announcement regarding the event's delay is coming so close to its usual dates. "It was important to wait and see if there was any chance we could proceed with this year's exhibition as planned," Handley said. "Now, like everyone, we are waiting to see what might be possible, being mindful that everyone's health comes first."

It has been an eventful year or so for Sculpture by the Sea, even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. To rewind a little, in mid-2019, organisers were at loggerheads with the Council over the construction of a new path, and were scoping out alternative locations for the long-running art exhibition. Indeed, it was only earlier this year that the parties came to an agreement to remain in Bondi — not just this year, but at least until 2030, with the organisers and Council agreeing to a ten-year deal.

Sculpture by the Sea will no longer take place from October 22–November 8, with rescheduled dates not yet announced. It's expected to take place either later in 2020 or early in 2021, on the Bondi–Tamarama coastal walk. For more information, head to

Top image: Sculpture by the Sea 2019 by Trent Van der Jagt

Published on September 27, 2020 by Sarah Ward


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