Abbey records €340,000 loss as box office receipts fall


Restructuring costs and a 12 per cent drop in box office receipts last year contributed to a loss of €340,196 at the Abbey Theatre.

The figure marks a dramatic change in fortunes for the national theatre which reported a profit of €240,376 in 2010.

Finance director Declan Cantwell said the loss had been anticipated and planned for, taking into account restructuring costs and a 30 per cent cut in Arts Council funding since 2008.

The Abbey booked €155,799 in redundancy payments as part of the final phase of its restructuring plan, which involved 26 job losses.

Mr Cantwell said that extensive overseas touring of Abbey productions in 2011 contributed to the loss. Touring has been scaled back this year due to the high costs involved.

However, he said the Abbey had reserves of €1.45 million and its overall health was good.

“We have been very prudent in how we have managed our resources and we have applied some vigour in making sure that we don’t overextend ourselves. Last year, we really started to feel the impact of the Arts Council cuts and we made a conscious decision to use our accumulated surpluses to maintain output.”

He said 120,000 people paid to see performances at the Abbey and Peacock theatres last year. A reduction in the number of performances along with a fall in average ticket yield and average attendance contributed to a 12 per cent reduction in box office receipts to €2.45 million.

However, its extensive touring programme, which involved the production of John Gabriel Borkman in New York and co-production of Juno and the Paycock with the National Theatre of Great Britain in London resulted in an 18-fold increase in touring revenues to €774,794.

The Arts Council grant last year of €7.1 million compared to €10 million in 2008.

The salary of chief executive Fiach MacConghail was cut by 11 per cent to €107,140 from €120,382 in 2009.

Mr Cantwell said the €1.5 million spent on property adjacent to the Abbey “was part of a long-term strategic plan in securing the future of the Abbey and building a new National Theatre here.”