Theatres return a profit
Nic Clark. Picture: Cheyne Tillier-Daly.

Perth's top two theatre companies have posted healthy bottom lines after their first full year in the new State Theatre Centre.

Fulfilling "build it and they will come" predictions, greater audience attendances in 2011 have partially offset ongoing concerns about the cost of mounting productions at the Northbridge complex.

Their annual reports show Black Swan State Theatre Company almost doubled its box office income from 2010 to record a surplus of $135,500 and the Perth Theatre Company bounced back from a $43,000 deficit to attain a $122,500 surplus.

Both resident companies enjoyed two sold-out seasons in 2011, a rare occurrence in the local theatre scene. However, despite increased revenue from ticket sales, sponsorships and donations, Black Swan and PTC have had to reduce their number of plays in 2012 to rein in their overheads.

PTC general manager Nic Clark sounded a warning about the high price of performing at the theatre centre, which opened in January 2011.

"It is a very expensive venue," Mr Clark said. "The staff loadings are the highest in the country. It limits how long we can sustain a season."

Mr Clark also wanted to see greater activation of the State Theatre Centre during the day, with cafes and courtyard entertainment supplementing nights in the theatre.

After a big push for more donations to offset flat State and Federal grants, Black Swan boosted income from this source three-fold to $1.5 million, largely on the back of a big donation from mining magnate Andrew Forrest and his wife Nicola.

The Forrests donated $3.7 million in the form of shares divided between Black Swan and the State's three other major performing arts companies, WA Opera, the WA Symphony Orchestra and the WA Ballet.

This largesse helped all these companies to post good financial results for the year. Their 2011 annual reports also showed increased ticket sales and general sponsorship, a reflection of the relative good health of the resources sector.

The WA Opera translated a $138,000 loss into a $356,000 profit and the WASO lifted its profit from $281,000 to $711,000.

WASO chairman Janet Holmes a Court said small steps also were being taken toward a long-

awaited new headquarters for the orchestra at Perth Concert Hall.

The WA Ballet had anticipated a small deficit in a year in which it embarked on a major building project for its new home in Maylands but it managed to post an operating surplus of $150,000.

With the opera and orchestra appointing new artistic directors, WA Ballet general manager Steven Roth said a replacement for the outgoing Ivan Cavallari would be announced in July.

The West Australian

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