Next year, don’t be alarmed if you see 30 brightly coloured ‘horses’ catching the train in Sydney’s CBD. It’ll just be Nick Cave. More specifically, it will be Heard.Syd, a major artwork from Cave which will see 60 dancers donning equine costumes and heading for Cityrail.

It’s all part of Carriageworks director Lisa Havilah’s plan to keep the cultural institution’s momentum going as it enters its fifth year under her directorship.

She needn’t worry. Building on the success of 2015, which has seen audiences increase by almost half, the 2016 program boasts 54 projects featuring 470 artists including in-demand K-Pop bands, extraordinary Ghanian artist El Anatsui, choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, Austrian guitarist and electronic musician Fennesz and photographers Tracey Moffatt and the late Michael Riley.

In a nod to Sydney’s diversity there are multiple festivals being celebrated, from Chinese New Year (the band Boyfriend) to the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras (Day for Night, a 24-hour installation by leading queer artists), Stephanie Rosenthal’s provocative Biennale of Sydney and the annual festivals of fashion and food that are Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia and Rootstock Sydney.

“We’ve always worked really hard to stay true to the context of our location,” Havilah says. “This is a building where 6,000 people used to work every day. It was one of the first places to employ Aboriginal people on an equal basis, and one of the first places a lot of new migrants worked in when they arrived in Australia,”.

New partnerships in 2016 include a collaboration with MONA FOMA and French artist Mathieu Briand, whose spiral record-player installation encourages people to live mix and cut a vinyl record. The Sydney Writers’ Festival will be represented by New York Times best-selling author and journalist Simon Winchester and Scot Andrew O’Hagan, who will speak outside the traditional festival circuit. The Sydney Symphony Orchestra has also been commissioned to create new works from Australian and international composers.

Carriageworks has nurtured new pieces from its resident companies Force Majeure (Off the Record, the first work under new artistic director Michelle Micich); Sydney Chamber Opera’s astonishing adaptation of Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground, and Performance Space.

“The scale keeps on growing but we’ve retained the commitment to providing pathways for new works and remaining fully integrated into the cultural life of the city,” Havilah says.