Box office revenues at Abbey Theatre last year plummet by 82pc due to Covid-19

Box office revenues at the Abbey Theatre last year plummeted by 82pc to €445,248 due to the Covid-19 impact on live entertainment.

he Abbey’s two theatres ‘went dark’ in March of last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to the Abbey Theatre’s 2020 Annual Review, box office income last year was €445,248 compared to €2.5m in 2019.

The sharp drop in revenues followed the Abbey having to postpone or cancel 23 productions last year.
The numbers to physically attend performances at the Abbey last year totalled 23,230 compared to 116,494 that attended Abbey performances in 2019.

Last year, only 3,358 people saw the Abbey productions on tour compared to over 36,000 people attending touring Abbey productions in 2019.

In their final report as joint Directors, Graham McLaren and Neil Murray stated that 2020 “was a year like no other in the storied history of the Abbey Theatre. The pandemic forced the longest closure since the theatre’s formation in 1904”.

They stated that following the closure of the theatre on March 12th 2020 “our original programme for the year succumbed, but we remained true to our core function of connecting Irish artists and audiences”.

They stated: “We created an ‘extraordinary programme for an extraordinary year’ – embracing this time period as a digital revolution for theatre. We experimented and innovated with online productions, gaining an audience of close to 700,000 viewers.”

The two have finished their five year term and Caitríona McLaughlin took up her role as new artistic director at the Abbey and Mark O’Brien as new executive director earlier this summer.

A spokeswoman for the Abbey Theatre stated on Friday that the Abbey Theatre does not anticipate that it will be recording a loss for 2020.

She stated that the full financial report for 2020 is currently with the Comptroller and Auditor General and will be published later in the year.

The spokeswoman stated that it is not possible to say what the Abbey’s projected box office revenues will be for 2021 “as it will depend critically on government rules related to COVID”.

She stated: “We have an ambitious, exciting programme for the rest of the year.

“We are delighted to be safely, welcoming a live audience next week, with the opening of Walls and Windows by Rosaleen McDonagh.”

The spokeswoman stated that “in person tickets are sold-out, but audiences can also watch from home with live-stream and on demand options from August 27 to September 11.”

She stated that the world premiere of iGirl, a new play by Marina Carr, will be in the Dublin Theatre Festival in September/October.

The spokeswoman stated that The Abbey Theatre is continuing to avail of the Government’s employee wage subsidy scheme.

She said that this year the Abbey Theatre received €7.5m in Arts Council Funding.

She said: “We are appreciative of the continued support from the Arts Council, which includes an increase in relation to COVID supports.”


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