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Carriageworks Has Officially Been Saved — and Plans to Restart Events As Early As August

For Concrete Playground: You could be shopping at the multi-arts centre’s popular Saturday farmers market as early as next month.

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You could be shopping at the multi-arts centre’s popular Saturday farmers market as early as next month.

After being in voluntary administration for ten weeks, one of Australia’s largest contemporary multi-arts centres Carriageworks has finally, officially, been saved. The precinct has secured its independent future with a new long-term lease thanks to a multimillion-dollar lifeline from a group of philanthropists and five years of funding from the NSW Government — and is on the road to recovery.

Carriageworks owed more than $2 million to over 140 creditors, but KPMG administrators pushed for creditors to agree to a deed of company arrangement over liquidating the establishment. Assuring the venue a 20-year lease, the deal reaffirms the creative hub as an essential part of Sydney’s cultural fabric.

In a statement, Carriageworks CEO Blair French expressed thanks to “everyone who has lent support over recent weeks”, highlighting “the wonderful philanthropists who have made extremely generous financial pledges to secure our future.” The deal is a relief for the entertaining companies that call Carriageworks home and the hundreds of other large-scale events, shows and exhibitions that have been held at the venue over the years. The centre’s recovery will likely also see the return of the much-adored Carriageworks Farmers Market in August.

Carriageworks Chair Cass O’Connor confirmed that the space has secured the longest lease in its history, with a history of operating on a month-by-month agreement. O’Connor commended the team for negotiating a newly revised business model that was “better able to cope” with the challenges presented by COVID-19. It remains to be seen what the new business model will look like, or when the venue will reopen, but the announcement comes as a positive piece of news for the arts industry, which has struggled in the wake of the pandemic.

The administrators will now hand back the company to its directors within the next week, with operations hoping to resume in coming months. In a nod to Carriageworks’ history, French stated: “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”. And for many Sydneysiders, we can’t wait to go back.

Published on Concrete Playground, July 23, 2020.

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