$70k Wollongong sculpture contest - stroke of genius?

Wollongong councillor Leigh Colacino has renewed his bid to set up an international sculpture award in the city.

Cr Colacino will use a notice of motion to next Tuesday's council meeting to recommend establishing the annual competition, in which the winner would receive $70,000 prize money in exchange for the city receiving the art work.

Cr Colacino tried to have a similar motion passed at the December 10 meeting, during debate on the $500,000 Crown Street Mall public art tender. However, it was defeated.

But post-meeting support from councillors, staff and the public led the Stanwell Park resident to tweak the proposal and resubmit it for consideration on Tuesday night.

Cr Colacino, a successful artist who specialises in portrait drawing, said he had spent many hours researching how such a project could work for the city and what would be required to ensure it attracted world-class entries.

Under the plans, sculptors would pay a nominal fee to enter their work, which would be assessed by a judging panel.

Unlike the December 10 motion, which proposed the competition be held solely for creating a sculpture for the mall, the revised scope would allow artists to choose from several city locations in which to set their work, including the botanic garden, the Blue Mile, Globe Lane or the soon-to-be-renamed Civic Plaza.

Cr Colacino believes a $70,000 purse, equal to the first prize on offer at Bondi's renowned Sculpture by the Sea event, would be enough to attract entries from all over the world.

The top sculptures would be showcased in a public exhibition for two to three weeks, which would be promoted as a major tourist event.

The commercial benefits for the region could be enormous, Cr Colacino said.

He cited the result of a 2009 economic impact analysis of Bondi's renowned Sculpture by the Sea, which found the event generated $23 million in direct spending and $59 million in indirect spending for the state.

"Imagine if we could get even half of that [expenditure] in Wollongong?"

"This event has the potential to deliver an exhibition on a world scale, it would provide tourism and economic opportunities, and at the end of the day, the city would get a world-class sculpture," he said.

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