Current Issue #488

Sydney’s Carriageworks enters voluntary administration


High profile Sydney arts venue Carriageworks has confirmed it has entered voluntary administration in a troubling portent for the broader Australian arts sector impacted by COVID-19.

The Eveleigh venue, which has been closed to the public since 23 March, announced today that its board had called in voluntary administrators after COVID-19 restrictions caused the cancellations or postponement of almost all aspects of its programming for up to six months, including Sydney Writers’ Festival, Fashion Week Australia and VIVID Sydney-adjacent programming. With 75 per cent of Carriageworks’ revenue hinging on such events, the organisation has found itself facing collapse.

“Since opening in 2007, Carriageworks has enjoyed the support of both the NSW and Federal Governments, and the generosity of its many partners and donors,” CEO Blair French said in a statement. “During this time it has become a Sydney institution attracting one million visitors a year to the site in Redfern and up to 5000 people every Saturday to the Carriageworks Farmers Market. But with restrictions on social gatherings likely to remain in place for some time to come, the Board determined that it had no alternative but to place the company into Voluntary Administration.”

Zan Wimberley
Reko Rennie, REMEMBER ME, 2020, Carriageworks

The former railyard and workshop turned sprawling multi-venue arts precinct has been home to a wide range of major exhibitions, live performances and community events since 2007, while also hosting that popular farmers market and providing office space for resident arts organisations including Kate Champion’s Force Majeure and Sydney Chamber Opera.

Notably, Carriageworks was among the 95 arts organisations that were successful in receiving 2021-2024 four-year funding from the Australia Council for the Arts in April. Having shifted away from a reliance on government support (that 75 per cent event-based revenue that vanished almost overnight), Carriageworks’ situation reflects a troubling catch 22: arts organisations that have followed years of prevailing advice to build strong public programming, audience engagement and non-government income streams now find themselves adrift without a workable buffer – or new injection – of government support to save them.
Walter Marsh

Walter Marsh

Digital Editor
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Walter is a writer and editor living on Kaurna Country.

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