Notice of Motion – Biennale of Sydney

Notice of Motion given 5 March 2014:

1. That this House notes that:
(a) The Biennale of Sydney is a popular cultural event that adds value to the lives of the people of NSW,
(b) The Biennale of Sydney was established in 1973 by Franco Belgiorno-Nettis and Transfield,
(c) The 19th Biennale, from 21 March – 9 June 2014, with free entry, will take place at a variety of venues around Sydney with more than 85 artists, including many from overseas and many up and coming Australian artists as well as more established ones,
(d) The 19th Biennale of Sydney, with a budget of some $10 million, has received financial support from many sources including $1.4 million from the NSW government, and substantial funding from the Australia Council as well as benefactors and supporters including some $600,000 from Transfield interests,
(e) Deloitte Access Economics reported that the 18th Biennale of Sydney in 2012 added $56 million to the NSW economy, and that
(f) The 18th Biennale was a free event and attracted some 665,000 visitors making it one of the premier cultural events in NSW.

2. That this House notes that:
(a) Art presents an opportunity for a range of diverse opinions to be expressed publicly
(b) Many artists participating in this year’s Biennale of Sydney, on 19 February 2014, wrote an open letter to the Board of the Biennale expressing concern that Transfield; including Transfield Services which has secured contracts with the Australian Government to provide services to detention centres in Manus and Nauru Islands; will receive value adding from their support of the Biennale and want the Board to cut ties with Transfield due to the mandatory detention of refugees on those two islands,
(c) These artists wanted “to extend this discussion to a range of people and organisations” and requested an urgent response from the Board and invited them “into this process of engagement”,
(d) Following a meeting on the 21 February, The Board of the Biennale of Sydney on 22 February 2014, responded to this open letter from the artists expressing empathy for their concerns but maintained that “The only certainty is that without our Founding Partner, the Biennale will no longer exist” and then encouraged the artists to express their concerns through their art,
(e) The five artists who withdrew from the Biennale on 26 February 2014, Libia Castro, Ólafur Ólafsson, Charlie Sofo, Gabrielle de Vietri and Ahmet Öğüt, have done so with financial loss to themselves .

3. That this House encourages artists to freely express their concerns through their art to bring matters of importance to the attention of audiences;

4. That this house congratulates the artists who withdrew from the 19th Biennale of Sydney for taking a stand on Australia’s position on the treatment of refugees.