Cork Opera House profits hit right note

Cork Opera House has recorded its third profitable year in a row and has never been in a “stronger and more sustainable financial position”, its AGM was told yesterday.

The theatre achieved a gross turnover of just over €5.9m for the year ended March 31, a staggering 24% increase on the previous year’s turnover, pushing the company’s profit up to €267,070, compared to €250,606 the previous year.

The company has seen increased bar takings and impressive advance bookings, up more than €120,000 on this time last year.

Board chairman, Damian Wallace, said the results were achieved on the back of prudent financial management, and appropriate programming.

But it would not have been possible without grants from Cork City Council, Cork County Council, and the Arts Council, totalling some €433,000, he added.

“The most significant achievement in recent years has been securing the balance between artistic and commercial work allowing us to cater for the broad and diverse needs of our audience while still achieving financial success,” he said.

CEO Mary Hickson, who after five years at the helm leaves the company next month to pursue other interests, said she was very proud of the financial results.

Cork Opera House profits hit right note

Mary Hickson, CEO

“Cork Opera House is back in people’s lives as well as their hearts,” she said.

“Repeating the profit statement for the third year in a row means the Opera House has never been in a stronger and more sustainable financial position. I am also very proud to say that, in addition to the finances, the programme is also incredibly strong with productivity ever increasing.”

The company’s 56th AGM was told the venue staged 108 events in the main auditorium with 183,298 patrons attending some 276 performances compared with the previous year, when 151,843 patrons attended 242 performances of 119 events.

A little more than 6,000 people attended 77 performances of 29 events in The Half Moon Theatre, down slightly from the previous year when just over 7,800 people attended 115 performances of 40 events.

Mr Wallace said that the in-house Christmas pantomime and summer musical productions have been a major contributor to the theatre’s success.

And he confirmed that New Ireland, the main title sponsor for the 2014 Christmas pantomime, has since agreed a three-year partnership deal.

But he warned that the company faces challenges in maintaining the building with limited resources, and from the city’s proposed events centre.

He said the board has tackled minor building issues with the support of a city council grant but he said a number of major projects are required, including the provision of appropriate office space for staff.

“This is a matter that the board intends to address in the coming 12 months,” he said.

He also praised Ms Hickson for her role in turning around the fortunes of the Opera House, which closed for the summer of 2010 when it was on the brink of financial collapse.

Ms Hickson praised the staff for their commitment and also thanked audiences for their support.

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