Abbey Theatre box office revenues decline 82% due to Covid-19

Sharp drop in 2020 revenues followed theatre postponing or cancelling 23 productions

Box office revenues at the Abbey Theatre last year plummeted by 82 per cent to €445,248 due to Covid-19's impact on live entertainment. The Abbey's two theatres 'went dark' in March of last year and according to its 2020 annual review, box office income in 2020 was €445,248 compared to €2. 5 million in 2019. The sharp drop in revenues followed the Abbey having to postpone or cancel 23 productions last year. The numbers to physically attend performances at the Abbey last year totalled 23,230 compared to 116,494 that attended performances in 2019. Last year, only 3,358 people saw the Abbey productions on tour compared to omore than 36,000 people attending such productions in 2019. In their final report as joint directors, Graham McLaren and Neil Murray stated 2020 "was a year like no other in the storied history of the Abbey Theatre. The pandemic forced the longest closure since the theatre's formation in 1904". Following the theatre's closure on March 12th"our original programme for the year succumbed, but we remained true to our core function of connecting Irish artists and audiences", they said. "We created an 'extraordinary programme for an extraordinary year' – embracing this time period as a digital revolution for theatre. We experimented and innovated with online productions, gaining an audience of close to 700,000 viewers."

New artistic director

The two have finished their five-year term and Caitríona McLaughlin took up her role as new artistic director at the Abbey and Mark O’Brien as new executive director earlier this summer.

A spokeswoman for the theatre said it is not possible to say what the Abbey's projected box office revenues will be for 2021 "as it will depend critically on Government rules related to Covid". She said the theatre is continuing to avail of the Government's employee wage subsidy scheme and that it received €7.5 million in Arts Council funding this year. "We are appreciative of the continued support from the Arts Council, which includes an increase in relation to Covid supports, she said.

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan is a contributor to The Irish Times