Organisers of the multi-million dollar Sculpture by the Sea event at Sydney’s Bondi are seeking a new host, after accusing Waverley Council of “compromising” the exhibition with a new pathway.

Founding director David Handley, whose art exhibition attracts about 450,000 visitors each year, says the 279m long and 1.8m wide concrete pathway will interfere with the Spring event and cut the number of installations.

It’s being constructed on the Marks Park ridge top, where many of the sculptures have prominent positions on the walk between Bondi and Tamarama, with the aim of increasing disabled access to the area.

“Waverley Council’s decision is devastating for Sculpture by the Sea and destroys Marks Park as a window to the world for the hundreds of thousands of people that come to see the artworks set against the iconic backdrop every spring,” Mr Handley said in a statement on Thursday.

“We have informed council this is likely to be the last exhibition.

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“It is too late to cancel for 2019, although nine sculptures will no longer be able to be exhibited and 12 will be greatly compromised.

“Marks Park will no longer offer the pristine backdrop suitable for a major international exhibition.”

A study by BIS Oxford Economics estimates visitors to the event contribute more than $11 million in direct spending to local food and beverage businesses, while interstate and international visitors travelling specifically to visit the exhibition contribute $38.9 million to the NSW economy.

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Opening Day | 18 October. We look forward to welcoming visitors to Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi tomorrow and are very excited for this year's exhibition. However considerable delays, caused by two weeks of rain, will mean that approximately 12-15 sculptures are yet to be installed in Marks Park and one large sculpture in Tamarama Park. This will take place tomorrow and possibly Friday. We appreciate your understanding and we are pleased for farmers in Sydney that have received substantial rain after a very dry winter and we feel for the farmers who are still in need of rain. Image: Mu Boyan, 'Horizon' Sculpture by the Sea, 2018. Photo: Charlotte Curd #sxsbondi18 | #sxsmoments

A post shared by Sculpture by the Sea (@sculpturebythesea) on

Mr Handley said artists have already completed a lot of work “and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars” of their own money on the 2019 exhibition.

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As well, organisers have spent more than eight months preparing for the event, using sponsor, donor and government funds, so it will go ahead, “but then it will probably be the end of Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi”.

Waverley Council member Sally Betts told The Daily Telegraph councillors had been “misled” after council officers told them organisers were happy with the design of the new footpath.

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