Less than 24 hours after the news broke that Carriageworks had gone into voluntary administration, plans for the city’s most famous arts destination, the Sydney Opera House, to take over the operation of the ailing Redfern-based venue have emerged.
As reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, a push for the SOH to take the reins of the contemporary art space at the Eveleigh rail yards were already in motion before administrators were called in on Monday, May 4.
Unhappy about the financial position of Carriageworks even before it was forced to go into voluntary administration, the NSW government had approached the Opera House’s management team to consult on the long-term sustainability of Carriageworks “as an important cultural venue”, a spokesperson told the Herald.
In the 2018-19 financial year, Carriageworks had reported a deficit of $559,236, after taking in $1.5 million in box office revenue, $1.1 million from its popular food and markets offering, and more than $3.9 million from commercial events, such as Sydney Writers’ Festival and Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia. It also received a grant from Create NSW, the state’s funding body, of $2.5 million. However, following the sudden cancellations of several major events in recent weeks, and with the likely prospect of being defunded by Create NSW, the venue was left with no viable sources of revenue. Despite freezing its spending and standing down more than half its core staff in April, it was unable to remain operational.
Now administrators have been called in, one likely outcome is that Carriageworks’ existing corporate entity could be dissolved, leaving the NSW government free to appoint a new operational body to take charge of the venue, such as the Sydney Opera House. A spokesperson for the NSW government told the Sydney Morning Herald, “The government will explore options as it works to secure the long-term sustainability of Carriageworks, including consulting with the Sydney Opera House and more widely to ensure the venue continues to serve and inspire the community as a cultural precinct.”