Sydney arts institution Carriageworks has been saved from administration after the NSW government backed a multi-million dollar lifeline from a group of 15 philanthropists.
The multi-arts organisation that operates performance and gallery spaces in repurposed 1880s locomotive workshops in Sydney’s inner west owes more than $2m to more than 140 creditors, and went into voluntary administration on 4 May.
Late on Friday afternoon, the New South Wales minister for the arts, Don Harwin, announced the government had agreed to a 10-year lease and a five-year funding agreement after philanthropists including Geoff Ainsworth and his wife Johanna Featherstone, Kerr Neilson, Michael Gonski and the Packer Family Foundation backed the arts organisation.
“At the heart of it, we are excited for the resident companies of Carriageworks who will also greatly benefit from this announcement,” Harwin said in a statement.
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.
Carriageworks is home to eight resident arts companies whose leases are tied to Carriageworks’ lease. Resident companies are also on rolling month-by-month leases, and in some cases have been for years.
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.
Twelve staff have remained employed on a part-time basis while the company has been in the administration process.