May 25, 2011
BIG stars, classic productions and the pulling power of one of Australia’s best known international actresses has fuelled higher profits, bigger audiences and helped attract new corporate sponsors and private donors for the Sydney Theatre Company.
At a time when some performing arts groups are still doing it tough, the theatre’s directors, Cate Blanchett and Andrew Upton, should have quelled any lingering doubts about their ability to run Australia’s pre-eminent theatre company, delivering a strong result at the end of their first three-year contract.
In a year that included a number of highlights, including William Hurt in Long Day’s Journey Into Night and the Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s August: Osage County, the standout production was Upton’s adaption of Anton Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya. The strong local cast – including Blanchett, Hugo Weaving and Richard Roxburgh – sold 44,295 tickets, the highest paid attendance of any one show in the past 12 years of the STC’s history.
Yesterday the company announced its operating profit for the 12 months to December rose 52 per cent to $919,860. It is the second surplus in a row, following four years of deficit.
The 2010 program, combined with Blanchett’s connections and more staff soliciting donations, was a magnet for contributions.
The STC Foundation’s annual dinner last year in honour of its patron, Giorgio Armani, raised $554,296, while another dinner with the cast of Long Day’s Journey Into Night raised $148,800, 13 per cent more than at a similar function the previous year.
People who loved theatre wanted to meet actors, which attracted them to the fundraising dinners, said the company’s general manager, Patrick McIntyre.
The company relies heavily on ticket sales but it wants to increase funds from sponsors and private donors to spread its risk.
”[We] still have a way to go to build the balance sheet into a solid, dependable base … and to provide a buffer against future ‘rainy days’ should they come,” Mr McIntyre said.
Blanchett and Upton said they had feared the risks of working across a broad range of styles.
”Thanks largely to the diligence of our casts, our crews and our staff … this significant risk was (for the most part) averted,” they said in the annual report.