Abbey Theatre profit hits seven-year high of €1m

Play featuring ‘Love/Hate’ star Vaughan Lawlor described as ‘sell-out sensation’

The Abbey Theatre enjoyed its best profit since 2007 last year. File photograph: Matt Kavanagh

The Abbey Theatre enjoyed its best profit since 2007 last year. File photograph: Matt Kavanagh


“Nidge” last year helped the Abbey Theatre to record its most profitable year since 2007, with profits of €1 million.

The theatre described last year’s Our Few and Evil Days, starring Love/Hate’s Tom Vaughan Lawlor as a “sell-out sensation” and the production last year helped the Abbey increase its box office performance by 25 per cent or by €492,000 from €1.93 million to €2.42 million.

A spokeswoman for the Abbey said on Thursday that the box office performance was the best at the theatre since 2011, when €2.45 million was generated, while its profit of €991,449 was the best since 2007.

The jump in box office receipts, along with touring revenues increasing more than ninefold to €397,103, contributed to revenues of €4.4 million at the Abbey, while it also received an additional €6.6 million in grants, including €6.47 million from the Arts Council. However, Our Few and Evil Days was not the best performer at the box office at the Abbey last year. That was the production of Sive by John B Keane, directed by Conall Morrison.

Increased profit

According to the directors’ report, the “result in 2014 will allow the Abbey to address, to some extent, the impact of a reduction in core revenue grant funding from the Arts Council of €6.47 million in 2014 to €6.2 million in 2015”.

However, in 2015, the spokeswoman said that the Abbey was projecting to record a loss. She said: “The Abbey Theatre is reinvesting a substantial amount of the accumulated surplus earned in previous years (2013 and 2014) into the programme of activity for 2015.

Male writers

Department of ArtsHeritage and the Gaeltacht

The Abbey applied to the Arts Council for funding for its Waking the Nation centenary programme following an open call for submissions in May 2015. Nine projects were chosen by a panel of experts. The Abbey’s submission was not among them. The Arts Council is the State’s independent statutory agency for developing and funding the arts.

After it was turned down by the Arts Council, the theatre then approached the department directly. It was given €500,000 following a series of “verbal discussions between the director and senior officials over a period of months”.

When it gave the grant towards the programme, the department was already aware that the Abbey had unsuccessfully sought additional funding from the Arts Council, which is the statutory independent arbiter of public support for the arts.