Marina Abramovic Launch

(6pm, Pier 2/3 Walsh Bay)

Thank you and good evening.

I'd also like to acknowledge John Kaldor AM, whose extraordinary generosity is responsible for Kaldor Public Art Projects bringing the first lady of performance art Marina Abramovic and her collaborator Lynsey Peisinger to Sydney.

Marina's long and illustrious career has seen her perform and exhibit at the world's major institutions, including the Guggenheim, New York's Museum of Modern Art and London's Serpentine Gallery.

She first visited Australia in 1979, performing at the Art Gallery of NSW for Nick Waterlow's Sydney Biennale.

Now, with Marina Abramovic: In Residence, Sydney's Pier 2/3 is home to an innovative, exciting and inspiring 12 day residency that will mark a significant legacy for performance art in Australia.

This unique residency involves members of the public and 12 of our own artists who will live upstairs, and be mentored by Marina.

David Walsh from Hobart's Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) once said of Marina that she seems to operate for all us.

"Her sins, her excesses, her minimalist, egocentric actions define the boundaries of what it is to be human. I would do the stuff she does if I had the balls. And the brains. And the desperation to understand. I'd rather be represented by a sinner than a saint."

I'm sure you agree that Marina's residency promises to be both powerful and pioneering.

I'm determined that Sydney continues to nourish and nurture artists and creative communities.

And we are so fortunate in the rich contribution that John Kaldoer and Kaldor Public Art Projects makes to our cultural life.

It started with him bringing Christo and his partner, Jeanne-Claude to our shores - literally to our shores! - back into 1969, for Wrapped Coast and following that up in Sydney with Gilbert and George. Since then, there have been over 30 Kaldor Art Projects, challenging and delighting us.

With each John took risks, and saw those risks pay off with people flocking to them. Who can forget the long queues of people waiting to experience 13 Rooms?

In recent years the City has developed a strong partnership with Kaldor Art Projects through our support for 13 Rooms, our Art & About collaborations with our banner project and the inspiring visit by Mike Landy with Acts of Kindness for in 2011.

In November 2013 Council agreed to support Kaldor Public Art Projects for three years.

But John's support of the arts is not limited to the many Kaldor Art Projects. In 2008 he donated his personal collection gathered over 50 years to the Art Gallery of NSW. A new gallery to display the collection was created from a former storage area which opened in 2011.

Sydney has responded to John's generosity and vision with enthusiasm, demonstrating, time and time again, just how important the arts are to our city.

The importance of the arts was reinforced to us during our consultations for Creative City - the City's blueprint for fostering a strong and vibrant artistic and creative life for our city.

The policy, which was released last year, followed extensive consultation with artists, audiences, business and government.

People came to us with a passion and enthusiasm for supporting our artists and creative thinkers, and they came to us with a host of fabulous ideas. For those of you here tonight who contributed, thank you.

We are employing all of the tools at our disposal, from planning and regulation to grants and sponsorship, to making use of our City properties, to foster a genuinely creative city culture.

Some of the ideas that are already being implemented include extending Art & About from an October celebration into a year round series of creative interventions in the City, and the negotiation of a Voluntary Planning agreement for a new $25 million five storey affordable cultural hub for artists and creatives in the Greenland residential tower in Bathurst street for 99 years. Earlier this year we launched Art Money, a loan scheme which makes it easier for people to purchase artworks.

On behalf of the City, I would like to welcome Marina and Lynsey back to Sydney. I know that our city will be all the richer for this extraordinary residency, and we are delighted to have you here for a program that I'm sure will be remembered for a long time to come.