Abbey Theatre box office revenues rebound but still far short of pre-Covid levels

Income last year totalled €573,848 which was an increase on 2020, but 77% behind 2019 revenue

Box office revenues at the Abbey Theatre last year rebounded by 29 per cent from 2020 to €573,848 but still fell far short of pre-Covid-19 business.

The Abbey “went dark” in March 2020 due to the pandemic but is now fully reopened after the easing of Covid-19 restrictions.

According to the Abbey Theatre’s 2021 Annual Review, box office income last year totalled €573,848 — which was a €128,719 increase on its €445,248 income recorded in 2020, but 77 per cent behind the pre-Covid box revenue of €2.5 million in 2019.

The numbers who attended the theatre for Abbey-produced events last year totalled 18,066 — well down on the 116,494 that attended Abbey performances in 2019.


The Abbey last year sold 3,854 tickets for digital productions as only 11 per cent of the Abbey Theatre’s audience attended in-person events due to ongoing Covid-19 restrictions. The theatre last year received €7.5 million in Arts Council funding.

The report states that 2021 “saw a long-awaited and triumphant return to live theatre”.

The return to live performance began with a capacity of 50 patrons, with restrictions eased to allow houses of 50 per cent just in time for the Dublin Theatre Festival, and capacities of up to 70 per cent by year end.

Commenting on its performance this year, an Abbey Theatre spokeswoman said: “Box office is performing well and we are meeting our budgetary expectations for the year. While the theatre industry really suffered during Covid, it has been heartening to see the appetite of the audience for a return to live theatre and the steady increase in ticket sales in the year to date.

“As is the case with our colleagues across the sector, we do not expect to see our box office returns to match pre-Covid [levels] at this point.”

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan is a contributor to The Irish Times