Bid to renegotiate festival leases slammed

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After receiving questions from the Sun Herald, the government’s arts agency, Create NSW, announced on Friday it had withdrawn the Expression of Interest round for all not-for-profits. It’s website now shows the EOI applies to the lone commercial premises on Level 3.

A spokesperson for Create NSW said the agency was working collaboratively with the tenants to ensure any concerns were addressed before proceeding with the EOI. Existing terms would apply in the interim.

“Create NSW is acutely aware that the arts and cultural sector is among the hardest hit by the pandemic and continues to work with the sector to ensure adequate support continues to be provided,” the spokesperson said.

Since 2016, tenants in the 13 office spaces in the Arts Exchange have been charged 30 per cent of market rent.

The remaining 70 per cent has been subsidised at a cost of $4.4 million through the Infrastructure Support Program. The current five-year lease agreements had expired, prompting the renegotiations.

Tenants are believed to have received a full COVID-19 rental and common area outgoings waiver from April to September 2020, and eligible tenants a further 50 per cent rental reduction from October to December 2020.

Under the new terms, the 30 per cent subsidy would not apply to outgoings this time including expenses like rates. The extra cost to the tenants was estimated to range from $500 to $10,500 per month depending on the size of the office let.

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Some arts company tenants expected to pay thousands more per year just as they were trying to recover from the shutdowns that have demolished their box office takings.

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