Performance Space Statement: Carriageworks enters voluntary administration

Other Tempo by Lauren Brincat, Liveworks Festival of Experimental Art, 2019. Image by Robert Catto
Other Tempo by Lauren Brincat, Liveworks Festival of Experimental Art, 2019. Image by Robert Catto

Performance Space is deeply concerned to learn that Carriageworks has entered voluntary administration.

Established over 35 years ago, Performance Space is a key resident company at Carriageworks alongside seven other organisations, collectively representing some of Sydney’s most exciting contemporary arts producers.

Performance Space Chair Jonathan Casson says, “Our relationship with Carriageworks has been strong and fruitful over the years. As a board we champion the need for a vibrant, well-managed and well-resourced arts sector. This step highlights the fragility of the sector and the need for sustainable funding."

Performance Space’s Artistic Director & CEO Jeff Khan says, “We are deeply saddened that Carriageworks has been forced to take this step in the face of an uncertain financial future.

“Our hearts go out to Blair and the Carriageworks team, who have been working hard under impossible circumstances to navigate the current crisis. We will work positively and productively with Carriageworks and the administrators to plan and secure a sustainable future for this iconic and essential cultural facility.

“Performance Space’s remit is to support independent artists across artforms in the creation and presentation of captivating new work. Performance Space has been an anchor tenant at Carriageworks since its opening in 2007. Over this time, we have presented countless contemporary arts projects there. It is a pleasure and an honour to make a contribution to the artistic and community life of this vibrant and dynamic cultural centre. Artists love working in this building—as do we: it’s the newest and most fit-for-purpose venue for the presentation of cutting-edge work that we have in Sydney.”

Performance Space is Australia’s home of experimental art. Throughout our history, Performance Space has championed artists who explore new horizons for contemporary practice and create transformative experiences for broad and engaged audiences. Since 2015, our annual Liveworks Festival of Experimental Art—held across the Carriageworks precinct for two weeks each October—has garnered national and international acclaim. Last year, over 50,000 patrons attended 60 Liveworks events in Carriageworks’ theatres, studios and public spaces.

Khan notes, “As an independent organisation receiving multi-year funding from the State and Federal governments and with a strong base of philanthropic supporters and industry partners, Performance Space will continue to make a critical contribution to NSW and Australia’s cultural life.”

“I am deeply concerned that the arts in NSW is in a critically vulnerable state, with no new investment from the state or federal government to support organisations whose earned income streams have collapsed due to the pandemic. Arts and culture is a $17bn industry in NSW. And yet the NSW government has thus far contributed only $2m to COVID-19 response initiatives—and this comes directly from the existing budget of Create NSW. This means that this $2m is granted at the expense of existing Create NSW funding programs that would have been accessed by independent artists and small-to-medium organisations. By contrast, the Victorian, Queensland and South Australian State Governments have all announced substantial support packages for the sector, in addition to current levels of arts funding. The Victorian Government, for example, has contributed $16.8m in new money directly from government to support Victorian arts sector to weather the impact of the pandemic – that’s in addition to Creative Victoria’s ongoing annual budget. That’s the leadership we need to see here.

“If NSW’s independent arts sector is to survive, urgent state and federal government investment is needed. There’s no time to lose when there’s this much at stake.”