The contemporary arts performance space called in administrators after COVID-19 restrictions on public gatherings forced the cancellation of concerts and events, resulting in an “irreparable loss of income”.
The collapse of Carriageworks has sent chill winds across the arts sector, with major arts companies similarly reliant on self-generated income also struggling with multimillion-dollar revenue slumps.
Sydney Symphony Orchestra musicians and leaders have agreed to pay cuts and the orchestra’s chairman, Terrey Arcus, has said it faces a $25 million revenue hit due to the coronavirus shutdown.
As revealed by the Herald, the Berejiklian government is exploring a proposal to allow Sydney Opera House to run Carriageworks, but tenants are lobbying for Carriageworks to retain its independence.
Meanwhile, Carriageworks administrators announced new staff stand-downs to conserve Carriageworks’ cash reserves.
A further 12 workers have been stood down, on top of 17 who were let go before voluntary administration.
All non-essential work has been suspended and a small team of 12 employees is working reduced hours to maintain essential services.
“While standing down further employees during this very challenging time is a difficult decision to make, it is, unfortunately, a necessary step in order to conserve Carriageworks’ cash position and allow more time to explore options,” Mr Quinlan said in a statement.
The Carriageworks executive, headed by Blair French, yesterday received support from a group of 11 artists, based at Carriageworks’ artists studios, The Clothing Store.
The artist residents called on the state government to proactively work with administrators to secure the venue’s future while providing emergency funding for the arts.
They rank among the most exciting names in visual arts: Tony Albert, Eugene Choi, Sarah Contos, Dean Cross, Cherine Fahd, Brian Fuata, Agatha Gothe-Snape, Tina Havelock Stevens, Kate Mitchell, Nell and Thea Perkins.
The group said it was troubled by the precarious state of visual arts in NSW. “New investment from the state and federal government is needed immediately to support arts organisations whose income has been devastated by the COVID-19 health crisis,” they said in a statement.
“Arts and culture are a $17 billion industry in NSW. The work of artists is at the heart of that multibillion-dollar value. Artists generate significant financial as well as cultural value for NSW, and in Sydney that’s centred on Carriageworks.”
Ms Fahd said Carriageworks was known for presenting art and culture in all forms and its programs were inclusive, diverse, experimental and innovative.
“These words do not come to mind when we think of the Opera House,” she said. “Sydney has a population of over 5 million people. Our numbers warrant diversity in the city’s institutions. We need institutions that give Australia some cultural credibility globally. Carriageworks does this.”
Linda Morris is an arts and books writer at The Sydney Morning Herald