It’s a very sad day for Melbourne’s cultural scene, with news today breaking that the Famous Spiegeltent will not be returning next autumn, as The Arts Centre Melbourne faces a massive financial crisis to the tune of $8 million.
The Spiegeltent has run on the forecourt of the Arts Centre for over two seasons, showing circus, cabaret, comedy and a host of live music, having seen performances from Tex Perkins, Kate Miller-Heidke, Katie Noonan, Lior and First Aid Kit in recent times.
But it’s now set to be just a memory. According to ABC News, Arts Centre Melbourne is in some serious trouble, with staff redundancies announced across various departments. The venue is desperately trying to cut costs, with a reported operating loss of $1 million on the previous financial year’s total revenue of $60.4 million.
The loss for the last financial year is speculated to be more like $8 million, with a former staffer telling ABC that the programming budget, which should last until next July, was all but spent by the end of August. “There is zero money for programming. There is no cultural or artistic imperative because the focus is entirely on trying to make a profit.”
But while Arts Centre Melbourne chief executive Judith Isherwood has refused to detail the budget deficit, she has said that there’s a full 12-month program still scheduled, telling ABC Arts, “We have also been developing plans to address the challenges and opportunities of the future.”
The Centre has allegedly made losses on many of its performances, while successful shows like War Horse and One Man, Two Guvnors were joint productions with the Melbourne Theatre Company and thus profits were also shared.
The troubles could also affect Hamer Hall, which recently reopened after undergoing a government backed $132 million renovation. Libby Christie of the Australian Ballet, who use the venue’s spaces, has said that the Arts Centre will be chasing additional funding from the Victorian State Government. “That is important for them. I have opened a dialogue with the Arts Centre so that we can talk through the issues and there are no surprises.”
(via Tone Deaf)