Carriageworks: COVID-19 Updates

Carriageworks reopens to the public
27 Jul 2020

Carriageworks will reopen to the public on Friday 7 August 2020. Visitors will be offered free access to a range of visual art installations by leading Australian and international artists, including eight new commissions as part of the 22nd Biennale of Sydney, a major exhibition by Giselle Stanborough and public art work by Reko Rennie.

The weekly Carriageworks Farmers Market also resumes from Saturday 8 August, providing the freshest seasonal produce from the best growers and producers from around NSW. Strict health and safety measures will be in place at the Carriageworks Farmers Market and they will continue to operate as a strict shop-and-go service for the community.

‘The future of Carriageworks has been secured thanks to extraordinary support from a group of donors and commitment to providing a long-term precinct lease from the NSW Government. The impact of our closure has been felt across a wide range of communities. We are now excited to welcome the public back to Carriageworks to reconnect with and support producers from across the state through the much loved weekly Carriageworks Farmers Market as well as to experience powerful works by Australian and international artists.’ Blair French, Carriageworks CEO

Carriageworks Opening Hours: Wednesday to Sunday, 10am-5pm (from 7 August)
Farmers Market: Saturday 8am-1pm (from 8 August)

Cinopticon, a major new installation by Australian artist Giselle Stanborough, will be physically unveiled to the public for the first time, following its installation in March 2020. In the physical exhibition, the artist uses searchlights, sculptural forms, colossal wall diagrams and mirrored digital surfaces to reflect the performative experience of social media platforms.

Carriageworks will present eight new commissions as part of the 22nd Biennale of Sydney that were created especially for the exhibition titled NIRIN and curated by Indigenous Australian artist Brook Andrew.

Kamilaroi artist Reko Rennie’s large-scale public artwork REMEMBER BE will continue to be presented at Carriageworks, following its installation earlier this year. With this work located at the entrance to Carriageworks and spanning some 25 meters in length and 5 meters tall, Rennie has created a present-day memorial in recognition of the frontier wars, the massacres and the survival of the original sovereigns of this country – the Aboriginal people of Australia.

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Carriageworks is implementing the physical distancing, capacity limits and increased hygiene measures outlined by the NSW Government.




Carriageworks secures independent future
22 July 2020

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

Following a ten-week Voluntary Administration process conducted by KPMG Partners, Phil Quinlan and Morgan Kelly, the 2nd Meeting of Creditors overwhelmingly accepted the Deed of Company Arrangement proposed and negotiated by Carriageworks’ Board of Directors.

Motivated by the crisis and the importance of an independent Carriageworks to the cultural fabric of NSW, a small number of private foundations pledged major gifts to ensure artists and audiences continue to have access to the sense of community, history and the unique creative environment of the Carriageworks precinct.

Carriageworks CEO Blair French said: ‘Carriageworks is recognised for its contemporary multi-arts programming, a curated program that is central to the artistic fabric of Sydney and NSW. The risk of closure gave rise to a most extraordinary expression of community support that gave great heart to everyone involved with Carriageworks. I wish to thank everyone who has lent support over recent weeks, and in-particular the wonderful philanthropists who have made extremely generous financial pledges to secure our future. The difficult Voluntary Administration process has been eased by the excellent work undertaken by the administrators as well as positive dialogue with State Government and other key partners. We recognise the impact of this process upon our staff, artists, suppliers, farmers market producers and audiences and look forward to re-engaging all our stakeholders as we re-emerge with renewed confidence and strength into what remains an operational environment constrained by COVID-19.’

Carriageworks Chair Cass O’Connor said: ‘Never waste a good crisis’ is apt guidance for current times. 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.’

Chair of the Oranges & Sardines Foundation, Johanna Featherstone said: ‘Carriageworks is home for a diverse community of creative and passionate voices, all connected by the desire to make exciting experimental and inclusive Art. In our current climate of uncertainty and concern, the Oranges & Sardines Foundation believes now, more than ever, the survival of Carriageworks offers hope, strength and the inspiration of the Arts to the people of Sydney.’

Over the coming months onsite activity will return only as enabled by staged lifting of COVID-19 restrictions. A reopening of the Carriageworks Farmers Market is planned for early August, with details confirming the date and announcements regarding further public activities to follow shortly.

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.’





Carriageworks Appoints Voluntary Administrators:
Impact of COVID-19 lockdown on income
5 May, 2020

Sydney, Australia: With great sadness, the Board of Carriageworks today determined that it had no choice but to appoint Voluntary Administrators to its corporate entity, Carriageworks Limited ACN 122 628 497.

Carriageworks is the largest contemporary multi-arts centre in Australia, presenting work by hundreds of artists and companies from around Australia and overseas every year. Carriageworks generates 75% of its revenue outside of government funding, primarily through on-site events and programs. The sudden cancellation or postponement of six months of activities due to restrictions on public gatherings has resulted in an irreparable loss of income. Activities that had been scheduled for this period included iconic events such as Sydney Writers’ Festival, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia, and the design event Semi Permanent (aligned with VIVID Sydney).

‘Following the earlier loss of shifts for casual staff, in early-April we stood down almost half of our core staff and asked those remaining to move to a three-day week. Focussing on essential work only we have been striving to find a way through the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown,’ Carriageworks CEO Blair French said today.

‘Since opening in 2007, Carriageworks has enjoyed the support of both the NSW and Federal Governments, and the generosity of its many partners and donors. During this time it has become a Sydney institution attracting one million visitors a year to the site in Redfern and up to 5000 people every Saturday to the Carriageworks Farmers Market. But with restrictions on social gatherings likely to remain in place for some time to come, the Board determined that it had no alternative but to place the company into Voluntary Administration.’

KPMG’s Phil Quinlan and Morgan Kelly have been appointed Voluntary Administrators of Carriageworks Limited. Phil Quinlan, Restructuring Services Partner, KPMG Australia said: ‘We will be working closely with the Carriageworks executive and its stakeholders to try and secure the future of Australia’s largest multi-arts precinct.’

‘We will be exploring the possibility of a Deed of Company Arrangement to stabilise Carriageworks’ financial position and allow it to continue its important role for Australian arts and culture.  All options are on the table for consideration’ Quinlan said.

‘The Carriageworks Board regret that this action has had to be taken. They are mindful of the impact of this situation upon independent artists and partner companies across the performing and visual arts at a time when the effects of COVID-19 related closures have made this sector so vulnerable. The Board remain hopeful that the Carriageworks facility will be able re-open to artists and community alike once NSW emerges from the effects of the current pandemic,’ Mr French said.





COVID-19 Update: Employee Strategy
9 April, 2020

Since 23 March, Carriageworks has been closed to the public.

In order for Carriageworks to weather the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic over the coming months – and preserve the Company’s future and staff’s wellbeing – Carriageworks has set out a temporary employee strategy.

We are grateful to every single person that makes up the Carriageworks team: they are all critical to the medium and long-term future of Carriageworks. The following arrangement reflects our need to respond effectively to extraordinary circumstances.

Like much of the Arts and Entertainment sector around the world, Carriageworks is prevented from operating events and delivering artistic projects due to current regulations regarding public gatherings. It is not possible for the company to continue business as usual. The result has been a significant reduction in our revenue stream. Consequently, our cost base must be urgently reduced.

To that end, effective immediately, Carriageworks is standing down almost half of its core employees for an anticipated minimum period of four months, underpinned by the Federal Government’s JobKeeper wage subsidy.

The Executive Team and remaining full-time staff will be asked to work three days a week for a minimum period of four months, underpinned by JobKeeper.

We also continue to scope and pursue potential support for our regular casual workforce.

Given the fluid and rapidly changing nature of the situation, the expected duration of this arrangement will be continually reviewed and may change. All non-essential work will be suspended. However all departments retain key points of contact who can respond to enquiries. The key focus is to ensure Carriageworks is in a financial position to relaunch public activities at the other end, maintain the heritage building and continue to engage our diverse communities and critical relationships.

As we transition to a smaller team, we greatly appreciate both the community and industry’s ongoing support and kindness. We look forward to relaunching Carriageworks and all its possibilities into a changed world, as soon as possible.

In the meantime, you can continue to help us by:

  • Supporting the future Carriageworks artistic program by Donating here.
  • Eating well and continuing to support our local famers and producers by accessing the very best seasonal produce from our Online Producer Directory here.
  • Contacting our commercial team regarding future event opportunities here.

Please take care of yourself and loved ones during the difficult weeks and months ahead by embracing good mental health and well-being measures.

Blair French
CEO, Carriageworks



COVID-19 Update: Carriageworks Closed
30 March, 2020

In line with decisions made by the National Cabinet as communicated by the NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Carriageworks will today close to the public until further notice to help protect the health of all visitors and staff and minimise the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in the State.

Any update to these restrictions will be communicated by the NSW Government in due course. Further official information and advice on COVID-19 for community and businesses in NSW is available at

Our primary responsibility is the health, safety and wellbeing of our audiences, staff and artists.

This is an unprecedented, ever developing situation and we will continue to monitor this crisis closely to respond quickly to changing public health circumstances and government directives. We will be providing ongoing updates on this webpage.

As the community moves towards stricter social isolation measures over the coming weeks, Carriageworks Farmers Market will be closed until further notice.  Carriageworks is committed to continuing to support our farmers and producers during this challenging time. For updates on where you can continue to access produce from your favourite stallholders, visit the Carriageworks Farmers Market web page.

The COVID-19 impact is far reaching, with catastrophic health and economic impacts on the broader Australian arts industry. Thousands of jobs are at stake and significant box office revenue will be lost as performances and exhibitions are cancelled. Please consider supporting the re-emergence of Carriageworks’ Artistic Program on the other side of this crisis. Donate now here.

We wish you well during these unchartered times and thank you for your loyalty, understanding and support. Please stay in touch with Carriageworks via the Carriageworks Journal and our social media channels for ongoing content from our artists and curatorial team.

Blair French
CEO, Carriageworks