Biennale of Sydney Media Launch

(11am, Wednesday 30 October 2013, Sydney Opera House)

Thank you, Mara, good morning, everyone.

I acknowledge the Hon George Souris, Minister for Tourism, Major Events, and Minister for the Arts - I don't know that his other responsibilities for Hospitality and Racing are so relevant to today's launch! Though he might approve of the fact that this Biennale includes an installation reflecting the history of Hyde Park, including its time as a race-course!

The Biennale of Sydney, however, most certainly qualifies as a "major event". Since the inaugural event in 1973 - also launched in this building, just newly opened then - it has grown, like the Opera House itself, to be an integral part of Sydney life.

Forty years on, it has world-wide recognition, having hosted more than 1600 artists from over 100 countries.

 

It can also claim some significant "firsts": it was the first Biennale to focus on Asia and the contemporary art of this region - a prescient move in 1973. In 1979, it became the first Biennale to show Indigenous art in the context of international contemporary art; and in 2008, it was the first Biennale to present an on-line venue.

In 2014, we will be claiming another "first".

The City has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Biennale that will enable us to retain a work as a permanent legacy for the City, and a marvellous addition to our public art collection.

From each Biennale, an outstanding work from one of the world's most exciting contemporary artists will be added to our legacy of public art.

Normally, both our limited budget and the tyrannies of time and distance prevent us including international artists in our collection. But now we will commit up to $300,000 every two years for a really exciting work.

It will be wonderful to have these really significant pieces remain in Sydney as a permanent legacy from each Biennale.

We are committed to expanding the range and lifting the quality of our public art to include more works that inspire, delight and start conversations, works that are unique to our City and express this time and this place.

The inaugural work will be created especially for Sydney by the Canadian artists Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller. The artists have exhibited in previous Biennales, in both 2002 and 2008, and while we can't release more detail until next year, I can promise you it will be an exciting and innovative work which I think will intrigue and delight.

Indeed, I am sure the 2014 Biennale as a whole will once again intrigue, delight and inspire us all.

The City is proud to continue our million-dollar-plus support for and involvement with this amazing event. And I'm delighted that in 2014, the Lord Mayor Access Day will become a three-day event, enabling more people than ever to access its riches. It is one of Sydney's great success stories, and I congratulate everyone involved in bringing it to us.