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Sydney Multi-Arts Precinct Carriageworks Is Set to Be Saved

The home of art exhibitions, wine festivals and the popular Saturday farmers market has received a multimillion-dollar lifeline from a group of philanthropists.
By Sarah Ward and Samantha Teague
July 11, 2020
By Sarah Ward and Samantha Teague
July 11, 2020

After going into voluntary administration in May, one of Australia's largest contemporary multi-arts centres has been given a multimillion-dollar lifeline — with Carriageworks in Sydney's inner city receiving support from a group of philanthropists that will enable it to keep operating.

Announcing the news, New South Wales Minister for the Arts Don Harwin advised that Geoff Ainsworth, Johanna Featherstone, Kerr Neilson, Michael Gonski and The Packer Family Foundation will provide funding to save the venue, and "have committed to ensuring the survival and the artistic vision representative of the Carriageworks arts precinct".

Minister Harwin also revealed that Carriageworks will receive a ten-year lease and a five-year funding agreement from the NSW government's arts funding body Create NSW.

It's a rare piece of recent positive news for the arts industry, which has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. When Carriageworks went into voluntary administration, it followed the organisation's forced closure in late March and the standing down almost half its core staff in mid-April. In a statement at the time, the Eveleigh multi-arts centre advised that "the sudden cancellation or postponement of six months of activities due to restrictions on public gatherings has resulted in an irreparable loss of income".

Jacquie Manning

Due to the government limits on mass gatherings put in place in March, events such as Sydney Writers' Festival, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week and Semi Permanent were either cancelled or postponed — all of which were set to take place at Carriageworks. The site's ongoing Farmers Market, which saw up to 5000 Sydneysiders visit each Saturday, has also been put on hold during the pandemic.

While Carriageworks relies partially on government funding, it generates 75 percent of its revenue from "on-site events and programs", as stated in its May announcement.

Specific details about Carriageworks' future plans — including a reopening date — have not yet been revealed; however Minister Harwin noted that, "at the heart of it, we are excited for the resident companies of Carriageworks who will also greatly benefit from this announcement".

Top image: Carriageworks Night Market by Daniel Boud Jacquie Manning

Published on July 11, 2020 by Sarah Ward


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