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Carriageworks is saved, finding its own independent future


It was a sad day for Australia's creative industries when Carriageworks announced it was in voluntary administration. This unique space has served as a cultural hub, hosting events like Australian Fashion Week and acting as an arena for artists to herald their work.

But there is some light at the end of the tunnel. Carriageworks has successfully secured an independent future.

The future of Australia’s largest multi-arts precinct has been secured thanks to support from a group of benefactors. In addition, there's been a commitment to providing a 10 + 5 + 5 year  precinct lease and five-year funding from the NSW Government.

Carriageworks was in administration with KPMG for 10 weeks, during which time the NSW government called out for the Sydney Opera House to buy the venue in an effort to save it.

But, motivated by the current pandemic and economic situation - and the importance of an independent Carriageworks to the cultural fabric of NSW - a small number of private foundations pledged major gifts. These gifts will ensure artists and audiences continue to have access to the sense of community history and the unique creative environment of the precinct.

Carriageworks Chair Cass O’Connor said: "From the outset, we undertook to provide the NSW Government with viable options for the future of Carriageworks the company, its activities and its Redfern home.

"We could not have done that without Geoff Ainsworth and Jo Featherstone’s Oranges & Sardines Foundation, the Neilson family’s Neilson Foundation, the Gonski family’s Gonski Foundation or the Packer Family’s continued support of our Solid Ground program.

"We have emerged from Voluntary Administration in the middle of a global pandemic with the longest lease in Carriageworks’ history and a revised Business Model which is better able to cope with the challenges evident all around us.

"We thank NSW Premier, The Hon, Gladys Berejiklian; the NSW Minister for the Arts, The Hon. Don Harwin; Mr Chris Keely and Ms Roslyn Mayled from Create NSW; and Ms Kate Foy and Mr Devlin Bell from DPC.

"Plus our pro-bono legal advisors Arnold Bloch Leibler and Herbert Smith Freehills, and finally, Phil Quinlan and Luke Meany from KPMG who have given professional, commercial and helpful guidance throughout."

It is wonderful news for the NSW creative industries, who have arguably been the industries hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic. This is a wonderful step in the direction of helping to revive our arts and cultural sectors.

Our arts and creative industries are some of the most important ones in our society. They offer an outlet of escapism, and act as a vehicle for change and recovery - giving voices and platforms to the unheard. We need these sectors now more than ever.

Carriageworks CEO Blair French said: "Over 100 years ago this industrial place was born out of resilience and innovation. Through sheer grit, determination and collaboration, we are still here with a promising, independent future. We can’t wait to welcome back the community."

This is heartwarming news. We cannot wait to get back to visiting the wonderful exhibitions - and the farmer's markets - at Carriageworks soon.

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Image: Carriageworks