Opera Australia posted a record operating loss of $22 million for 2021 after being forced to cancel most of its performances.
But audiences are coming back despite a quiet start to 2022, OA chief executive Fiona Allan told AAP.
“I think we’re on the right track…everything is improving now with the box office, so the rest of the year is looking really, really positive,” she said.
The nation’s largest performing arts organization reported an operating loss of $22.6 million in its 2021 annual report released Monday.
But $37 million from the recent sale of its Alexandria warehouse, $21 million in public funds and income from its capital fund have helped it return to a $39 million surplus.
Yet the problems facing OA are indeed opera-wide.
It had to cancel around half of its productions scheduled for 2021 – Aida in Sydney, for example, only took the stage for one night.
The box office took $17 million, a significant drop from the pre-COVID period.
In 2019, OA sold over half a million tickets, but that figure dipped to 80,000 in 2020 before rising somewhat to 128,000 in 2021.
OA has higher fixed operating costs than other performing arts organizations, with a full-time orchestra and choir, a vocal ensemble, and the costs of its Sydney and Melbourne headquarters.
Earlier in the pandemic, he quit the staff on half pay, before showing 56 of his workers the stage door.
Ms Allan said she does not believe large-scale job losses will be necessary in the future and wants to rebuild the orchestra and employ more singers.
But Australia’s largest performing arts employer only offers short-term contracts.
“Until we come out on the other side of the pandemic, until our revenue stream is completely certain for us, we will not put people on permanent contracts,” he said. she stated.
Like many companies, OA returns to please the crowds in 2022-23, with The Phantom of the Opera at the Sydney Opera House and an outdoor production of Carmen.
“We’re trying to create experiences that will appeal to a much wider audience than one who might want to sit in a theater, and I guess that’s our big push to expand our traditional audience,” Ms. Allan said.
OA’s warehouse in Alexandria, used to store props and sets, was sold for approximately $46 million and leased to its new owners.
It still has its headquarters in Sydney and Ms Allan said the organization will be looking at ways to make more money from the site.
Also on Monday, the Chairman of the OA Board, Professor Glyn Davis, was appointed Secretary to the Prime Minister and Cabinet Department.
Australian Associated Press