Art Centre Melbourne posts $7m deficit

Embattled CEO defends expensive artistic projects as job cuts are expected.

The anticipated financial loss for Melbourne’s premiere arts venue was officially put at $7.2 million in the annual report for 2012-13 laid before the State Parliament yesterday. The latest figures follow a less drastic, but still serious, $1 million loss for the previous financial year.

Judith Isherwood, Chief Executive of the troubled venue defended the cost of investment in loss making projects like Einstein on the Beach and Robert Lepage’s nine-hour theatre piece, Lipsynch.

The Victorian Arts Centre Trust blamed $3.4 million of the loss on the cost of the program for reopening Hamer Hall while $2 million was lost on maintaining the centre’s increasingly ageing infrastructure. Isherwood backed this up, complaining that venue maintenance has meant them having to invest from their own reserves over a number of years as a direct result on insufficient government funding.

The current restructure plan is expected to lead to job losses in programming and digital arts but Isherwood said that that would be offset by the creation of new jobs in other unspecified areas. However, the Famous Spiegeltent, a regular Arts Centre summer fixture, has already fallen victim to the cuts.

Arts Minister Heidi Victoria wouldn’t be drawn on whether the government was prepared to increase funding or help deal with the current loss but a peer-led review is expected to report privately on the matter at a future date.

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Art Centre Melbourne posts $7m deficit
Arts Centre CEO Judith Isherwood in happier times...
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