Touring helps Abbey Theatre boost box office receipts by 28%

Income from theatre company’s touring in Ireland and Britain jumps eightfold in 2018

Extensive touring with works, including Roddy Doyle's Two Pints, sent box office receipts at the Abbey Theatre soaring to €3.29 million last year.

According to the theatre’s annual report, audiences grew to 127,499 in 2018, its highest box office since 2013.

Box office income was boosted by a sell-out run of the musical Come from Away and by Doyle’s Two Pints being performed in the United Kingdom as well as stopping off at six pubs during its tour of Ireland across four counties.

Other box office highlights included Sean Holmes’s staging of Sean O’Casey’s Plough and The Stars and Marina Carr’s On Raftery Hill.

The figures show that overall box office receipts increased by 28 per cent to €3.20 million from €2.56 million, driven by an eightfold jump in touring income – from €59,812 to €477,672.

That contributed to an operating surplus for the theatre of €30,885. Spending of €166,153 on capital and short-term projects resulted in a loss of €135,268 for the year.

According to the directors’ report “financially, 2018 proved to be a healthy year for the theatre”. The Abbey received €7 million in core funding from the arts council in the period.

The directors said the results were “ broadly in line with budget for the year and reflects the board’s decision to invest surpluses earned in previous years into the Peacock Theatre programme in 2018”.

Total income year amounted to €12.2 million – an increase of 14 per cent on the 2017 total of €10.7 million, while overall expenditure increased by 15.5 per cent from €10.6 million to €12.34 million.

The figures show that the costs of employing the theatre's joint chief executives – Graham McLaren and Neil Murray – was €219,380. Each received €101,565 in pay and €8,125 in pension contributions. The two men were appointed in July 2016 for a five-year term.

The senior management team was paid €498,352. Staff costs overall increased by 13 per cent to €5.6 million even as numbers fell slightly to 121, form 126. The accounts disclose that last year four staff received a total of €187,207 in redundancy payments.

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan is a contributor to The Irish Times