Sydney City Council Is Spending $9 Million On Public Art It Hasn't Yet Made Public

Public art evokes different reactions from people. Photo: Simon Thomsen

The City of Sydney Council agreed to spend $9 million on three works of art on Monday night, but just what ratepayer’s money is buying remains a mystery not being revealed by Council until Tuesday morning.

Surprising secrecy has surrounded the project, leading to bitter clashes between a councillor, Liberal Edward Mandla, and his colleagues, over his push to disclose the 10 finalists before the final decision.

Council staff insist the project is commercial-in-confidence to comply with local government regulations, and potential corruption allegations were levelled at the rogue councillor if disclosed the confidential details.

On Monday night, Cr Mandla moved to have the finalists made public and let the public vote for their favourite works, but his amendment was defeated 9-1, with some councillors arguing that revealing the works would leave the artists and their ideas vulnerable, discouraging them from submitting to the tender process in the future.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the two-year process of choosing the works was not controversial and had been unanimous up until last week.

The winning works are part of a major makeover of George Street, as the council prepares to radically change its character by installing a light rail line running down the busy road. The Lord Mayor said the art would be a welcome “distraction” during the construction phase.

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