It felt a little surreal to wake up on Thursday and see the Daily Telegraph attack me for removing public art. "There is absolutely nothing wrong with public investments in art," the Tele said in its editorial – I’m so glad they’re finally on board!
This particular attack was because we removed the popular MOMO mural at Kent Street. Yes, it was fabulous – but it was only ever intended to be temporary. It was part of Art & About Sydney, our program to bring temporary artworks out of galleries and into public spaces.
The Kent Street underpass is an unattractive space so we jumped at the opportunity for temporary public art pre-major construction. (It's now getting improved lighting, a wider staircase, more garden areas and better separation between the cycleway and footpath to make it safer and more pleasant to walk through.)
Art plays an enormous part in the life of any great city. It can engage and stimulate, it can provoke both thought and action, it can add depth, texture and meaning to urban experience. During our consultation for Sustainable Sydney 2030, for “OPEN Sydney” and for our Cultural Policy, you clearly told us you wanted more public art in our city and we have developed a strong track record of delivering iconic and engaging works.
Some of our art is permanent (and the Telegraph has certainly written about some of those pieces!) and some of it is temporary (Vivid Sydney, the Biennale of Sydney, even the Sydney Festival all feature examples of much-loved temporary public art).
Our public art program play a crucial role in developing opportunities for artists to reflect on contemporary life and present innovative ideas to challenge and delight our citizens and visitors – I couldn’t be more proud of our work supporting public art in the City.