Back in the black: STC’s golden year

At its Annual General Meeting on Tuesday, the Sydney Theatre Company announced an operating profit of $607,167 for 2009, the first year programmed by Artistic Directors Andrew Upton and Cate Blanchett.

Chairman David Gonski said: “The result for 2009 is excellent in all respects and is a testament to Andrew and Cate’s ambitious and inspired first program combined with the board and management’s sound stewardship of the Company in a very challenging economic climate.”

While the Company’s operating profit is $607,167, the recorded result also includes income of $152, 192 earmarked for the Company’s Greening The Wharf
project, which means the Company’s 2009 result is a surplus of $759, 359.

Overall in 2009 Sydney Theatre Company gave 17% more performances that were enjoyed by 38% more ticket buyers. Box office income (excluding tours) increased by $2.9 million, up 27% on 2008.

Some of the highlights of 2009 included; A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams directed by Liv Ullmann; a promenade re-imagining of stories of creation in The Mysteries: Genesis by Hilary Bell and Lally Katz; Martin Crimp’s The City directed by Benedict Andrews; a revival of David Williamson’s The Removalists; Marion Potts at the helm of The Wonderful World of Dissocia; and Tom Stoppard’s comic masterpiece, Travesties.

When the 2009 Sydney Theatre Awards were announced in January, Sydney Theatre Company made a 100% clean sweep of the main-stage theatre categories.

Andrew Upton and Cate Blanchett also revitalised the Company’s artform development and access programs now re-titled Next Stage and Back Stage, including several co-productions such as The Duel (with Perth’s ThinIce) adapted by Tom Wright and directed by Matthew Lutton, and ‘Rough Draft’ creative developments and readings, where emerging, pioneering and independent companies and artists thrived.

The Company’s education program (STC Ed) also expanded with productions for schools including Arthur Miller’s The Crucible featuring Peter Carroll and Marta Dusseldorp; Actor on a Box, a new initiative of theatre experiences for children aged 3 to 8 years;, and drama programs for primary school children, developed in partnership with University of Sydney, aimed at increasing literacy.

The Residents, the Company’s permanent ensemble of actors, came together in June and immediately took up a central role in the day-to-day operations of the Company, moving regularly across Main Stage, Next Stage, Back Stage and Education streams.

Throughout 2009 Sydney Theatre Company productions were seen in Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania, Western Australia, Great Britain and the USA. The most high profile tour was of A Streetcar Named Desire to New York and Washington where more than 50,000 people saw the show. The New York Times’ Ben
Brantley applauded the production for taking its own “unflinching artistic risks” and wrote “you feel like you’re hearing words you thought you knew pronounced
correctly for the first time”.

The production itself, Robin McLeavy and Cate Blanchett were honoured with prestigious Helen Hayes Awards and only the Company’s already full schedule for 2010 prevented accepting invitations to transfer the production to Broadway.

2009 was a significant year in terms of fundraising for the Company’s Greening The Wharf program, an ambition for the Company announced by Andrew Upton
and Cate Blanchett at the time of their appointment. Work is underway to transform the Company’s home base, The Wharf, into a demonstration of how buildings, even heritage listed ones, can be made more sustainable. A highly visible component of this comprehensive plan will soon become a reality as installation of one of Australia’s largest capacity roof-top solar energy arrays gets under way.

The ongoing support and very generous personal commitment of the Company’s Patron, Mr Giorgio Armani, remained a source of great pride in 2009.

Meanwhile, vital corporate support of the Company represented around 7.4% of the annual budget, again exceeding core operating grants from Government. At the end of the year Sydney Theatre Company welcomed the news that Principal Sponsor Audi committed to extending its support until late 2012.

Erin James

Erin James is's former Editor in Chief and a performer on both stage and screen. Credits include My Fair Lady, South Pacific and The King and I (Opera Australia), Love Never Dies and Cats (Really Useful Group), Blood Brothers (Enda Markey Presents), A Place To Call Home (Foxtel/Channel 7) and the feature film The Little Death (written and directed by Josh Lawson).

Erin James

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