Sydney Theatre Company had a difficult year in 2016, with the sudden and unexpected departure of the company’s artistic director, Jonathan Church, after just a few months in the job.
But the country’s largest theatre company posted strong financial results and attracted one of its biggest audiences ever in 2016, the company’s last season programmed by former artistic director Andrew Upton.
In its Annual Report for 2016, STC posted a modest operating surplus of $262,000 across its three main business units (Sydney Theatre Company, Roslyn Packer Theatre, STC Foundation), down from $618,000 in 2015. The consolidated group result, which includes monies received towards capital raising, stands at $2.3 million ($2.6 million in 2015).
There were 303,661 tickets sold for shows in Sydney across the year (up from 282,622 in 2015), with revivals of Arcadia and Speed-the-Plow the two highest selling productions.
The company sold 78,915 tickets for shows outside of Sydney, including a tour of The Secret River, The Wharf Revue, Disgraced, a Melbourne season of Joanna Murray-Smith’s Switzerland, and 15 previews of The Present on Broadway, starring Richard Roxburgh and Cate Blanchett (the show opened early 2017).
That brings the company’s total paid audience to 382,576 in 2016, up from 318,899 in 2015. The number of subscriber members dropped slightly from 20,513 in 2015 to 19,493 in 2016. But that’s still a boost on 2014, which saw subscriber numbers as low as 15,261.
Despite the fact that this year’s season was partially programmed by Church, and then completed by STC’s new artistic director Kip Williams and the artistic team at STC, the company seems to be in for another successful year in 2017.
According to Williams’s Artistic Director’s Report, the company already has more than 19,000 subscribers for 2017.
But the company is heading into a potentially difficult period in 2018 as it closes The Wharf, its home in Walsh Bay, for more than a year of renovations. The year will mark the first season programmed under Williams’s sole directorship, and will require the company to work without two of its four regular theatres.
The 2016 Annual Report reveals that much of the groundwork and fundraising required for the $65 million project was raised over the course of the year.