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Philanthropists’ multimillion-dollar lifeline to save Sydney’s Carriageworks arts hub

Philanthropists’ multimillion-dollar lifeline to save Sydney’s Carriageworks arts hub
July 10, 2020

Multimillion dollar backing from a group of philanthropists is to ensure the future operations of Sydney arts and events venue the Carriageworks, with the NSW Government supporting the venture with a 10-year lease and five-year funding agreement.

The multi-arts organisation that operates performance and gallery spaces in repurposed 1880s locomotive workshops in Sydney’s inner west went into voluntary administration in May owing more than $2 million to more than 140 creditors.

Now the arts institution, which is home to eight resident arts companies, has been saved with NSW Minister for the Arts, Don Harwin announced an agreement with philanthropists including Geoff Ainsworth and his wife Johanna Featherstone, Kerr Neilson, Michael Gonski and the Packer Family Foundation backed the arts organisation.

Harwin advised “at the heart of it, we are excited for the resident companies of Carriageworks who will also greatly benefit from this announcement.”

The funding from the philanthropists was contingent upon Create NSW granting Carriageworks a long-term lease.

Carriageworks had been in negotiations with the NSW Government’s arts funding body Create NSW – through which Carriageworks subleases the site from Transport NSW - for a formal long-term arrangement “for some time”, the administrators noted, but no documentation or concrete agreement had been reached before the company went into administration.

Create NSW provides core funding of $2.53m annually to Carriageworks, and the decision to go into voluntary administration was made in part due to uncertainty over when the next injection of funding would occur.

While in administration, it was revealed Carriageworks owes $432,000 in leave and superannuation entitlements to its 42 permanent and more than 90 casual staff.

12 staff have remained employed on a part-time basis while the company has been in the administration process.

Carriagework image, Alamy stock photo.

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