Abbey Theatre surplus jumps to €1.73m with revenues just 23% of pre-Covid figure

Theatre expects income to return to pre-Covid levels this year

Box office receipts jumped 29 per cent at the Abbey Theatre last year but they are still a fraction of pre-Covid levels.

The theatre’s annual report says it had receipts of €572,848 in 2021, up from €416,455 the previous year but well shy of the €2.5 million recorded in 2019. The Abbey was closed for the first five months of last year, due to pandemic restrictions.

The company’s directors say they expect that, this year, the national theatre’s income “will again return to pre-Covid19″ levels.

Overall, the theatre reported a surplus of €1.73 million, well over four times the €370,0000 it reported for 2020.


The finances were boosted by Arts Council funding which increased by €500,000 to €7.5 million. The theatre also benefited from €1.95 million in pandemic wage subsidy supports compared to €1.16 million under that heading in 2020.

Income increased by 8 per cent from €8.55 million to €9.2 million as its total expenditure reduced 9 per cent from €8.18 million to €7.46 million.

The company saw its joint chief executives, Graham McLaren and Neil Murray depart during the year, replaced by co-directors Caitríona McLaughlin and Mark O’Brien. Between them, the four executives earned €323,642 in the year, including over €18,000 in pension contributions.

Mr McLaren and Mr Murray each received €81,640 for their work from January to July 3rd last year. Their annual salary for the prior 12 months was €103,216. Ms McLaughlin, the theatre’s artistic director and executive director Mr O’Brien each received €71,037 in salary from May 4th to the end of the year.

Chairwoman Frances Ruane said “Covid-19 meant that 2021 was another challenging year for the theatre” with the doors closed for the first five months.

Some of the theatre’s highlights last year were Marina Carr’s iGirl and Brian Friel’s Faithhealer.

Staff costs net of Covid-19 wage support payments last year totalled €3.12 million as numbers employed totalled 102.

At the end of December last, the theatre’s total funds amounted to €4.6 million as its cash funds increased from €4.54 million to €4.78 million.

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan is a contributor to The Irish Times