Committed philanthropists have given a lifeline to the collapsed Carriageworks in a move that may lift Australia’s largest multi-arts precinct out of voluntary administration and reopen its doors to the public.
The New South Wales government announced emergency funding for the arts and culture sector on May 24 totalling $50 million (US$34 million), but it came too late. Since the government already provides a large proportion of Carriageworks’ core funding (roughly a quarter), at least some private philanthropy is required to bail out the company.
On May 4, Carriageworks entered into voluntary administration, citing an “irreparable loss of income” due to government regulations that prevented it from running events and projects amid the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic (commonly known as novel coronavirus).
The CCP virus lockdown decimated Carriageworks’ projected revenue, of which 75 percent comes from onsite events and programs.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Carriageworks owes more than $2 million (US$1.3 million) to 225 creditors according to documents lodged with ASIC.
Since then, up to 15 philanthropists have stepped forward to donate over $2 million (US$1.3 million) to the iconic art space.
The most generous benefactor is believed to be major art collector Geoff Ainsworth and partner Johanna Featherstone, who were major contributors to the Art Gallery of NSW expansion.
Kerr Neilson and his daughter Paris have also offered conditional funding that would depend on A management and organisational restructuring.
“We have pledged a reasonable amount once the lease is renewed and the operation is reorganised,” Neilson told Sydney Morning Herald on May 22.
“We are simply interested in ensuring the country has as much exposure to ‘art’ as is practicable.”
Art galleries and museums do not only contribute to Australian’s wellbeing but also their economy. Cultural tourists spend three times as much as other tourists, according to Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art Director Liz Ann Macgregor.
“When all this is over, there is going to be a huge growth in domestic tourism and galleries and museums are real drivers in that market.”