The Australian Ballet has released its 2017 annual report, posting a consolidated surplus of almost $5.5 million, driven in large part by increased donations and bequests. But this promising sum is offset by an operating deficit of $619,000, up from the previous year’s shortfall of $550,000.
Like Opera Australia, the company faced significant challenges with the closure for refurbishments of the Joan Sutherland Theatre, its regular home at the Sydney Opera House. Relocation to the Capitol Theatre contributed a substantial $1 million to costs. The company met similar problems when it came to finding a venue for its Adelaide Gala Spectacular. Usually held at the Adelaide Festival Centre, its closure for renovation meant a move to the much larger Adelaide Entertainment Centre. The Gala also generated lower than expected ticket sales, with a competing ballet company performing in the city at the same time.
More positively, Christopher Wheeldon’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland took in a record-breaking 75,840 paid attendances across 41 performances in Sydney and Melbourne. A co-production with the National Ballet of Japan, it saw overall box office coming in at $31.6 million, up from $27.5 million in 2016.
However, 2017 showed itself to be the company’s most expensive season ever at $52.3 million, up from $49.5 million in 2016. The Capitol’s commercial rents, inevitable relocation costs, and the hefty spend associated with mounting Wheeldon’s Alice’s Adventures were all significant contributing factors. Thus the resulting net performance deficit for 2017 was $17.8 million.
In regards to its $5.5 million surplus, the company benefited in particular from donations received for the redevelopment of its Melbourne headquarters, The Primrose Potter Australian Ballet Centre, as well as the development of this season’s new production of Spartacus.