Sydney’s heritage arts and cultural hub Carriageworks has entered voluntary administration after the coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of all its on-site events.
The board of the Eveleigh-based industrial chic facility said it generated three quarters of its revenue from private funding, particularly through on-site events and programs.
Such events were made impossible by the COVID-19 pandemic and government funding – roughly a quarter of Carriageworks‘ revenue – could not fill the breach.
The decommissioned Eveleigh Carriage Workshops site, built in the 1880’s, has been used for Sydney’s A-list arts events since 2003 and recent major events at Carriageworks cancelled due to the pandemic included: the Sydney Writers’ Festival, Australian Fashion Week and activities connected to Vivid Sydney.
Carriageworks chief executive Blair French said the facility had before its March 23 shutdown attracted one million visitors per year and 5000 people each week to its farmers’ market.
It had already cancelled all shifts for casual staff and in April stood down half of its staff and asked the remaining staff to work three days per week.
“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,” Mr French said in a statement on Tuesday.
Phil Quinlan and Morgan Kelly of KPMG have been appointed voluntary administrators and said they’d look to stabilise the centre’s financial position and prevent a permanent closure.
Carriageworks posted a deficit of $560,000 in 2018 from a total revenue of $11.6 million.
NSW Labor, meanwhile, accused the state government of allowing the local arts and culture scene to wither amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Opposition arts spokesman Walt Secord called for an emergency arts package which would support the industry’s workers while public events were banned.
“Industry officials say that it may take up to five years to recover and many organisations may not survive with thousands of artists without any source of income,” Mr Secord said in a statement.
“Carriageworks is the tip of the iceberg.”
Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore echoed Mr Secord’s comments, saying on her Instagram page that Carriageworks was “one of our most important creative heritage precincts and is vital to our cultural life in Sydney”.
Mr French acknowledged the pandemic had decimated the arts in NSW.
“(The board) are mindful of the impact of this situation upon independent artists and partner companies across the performing and visual arts at a time when the effects of COVID-19-related closures have made this sector so vulnerable,” Mr French said.