A Year of Beauty in numbers
Programming a sumptuous new production of Sleeping Beauty, initiating Storytime Ballet for children, adding a Sydney season of Graeme Murphyâ€™s Swan Lake at the Capitol Theatre and a season of Giselle in Melbourne all paid off for the Australian Ballet in 2015.
The repertoire for the year, themed by the company as ‘A Year of Beauty’, helped boost box office and performance fees by 22.5 per cent on the previous year, with income totalling $31.5 million.
However the costs associated with staging and performing the artistic program, including employee and other expenses, were $46.2 million. This resulted in a net performance gap deficit of $14 million.
The companyâ€™s annual report shows the net consolidated result for the financial year ending December 2015 was a surplus of $3.15 million.
Of course the companyâ€™s income is not only from box office and performance fees but also from government grants, the Australian Ballet Foundation (donations, bequests and investment income), commercial activities such as property rental and car parking at the companyâ€™s headquarters in Melbourne, fund raising (annual giving and sponsorships), income from Orchestra Victoria, (a subsidiary of the Australian Ballet), and investment and interest income.
The big increase in income last year came from government grants, with total funding last year at $16.2 million compared with $9.4 million the previous year, however the two years arenâ€™t comparable.
Libby Christie, executive director of the Australian Ballet, explained: â€śThe major difference is that 2015 includes 12 full months of base funding for Orchestra Victoria, versus six months for the prior year when we took over Orchestra Victoria on 1 July 2014, as well as some one-off funds provided for restructuring Orchestra Victoriaâ€ť.
Other government funds included a final payout of around $293,000 for a fitout for the Australian Balletâ€™s production centre, and funding assistance for the companyâ€™s China tour.
Sponsorships and donations also increased to $4.1 million last year compared with $3.1 million the previous year. Funding for The Sleeping Beauty is likely to be a factor in the rise.
Other income streams declined. Foundation donations and bequests fell to $5.3 million last year compared with $9.3 million the previous year.
There was a fall in cash and cash equivalents on hand at the end of last year – $10.6 million â€“ in comparison with the beginning of the year – $23.1 million.
This was due to endowed funds of $13 million, previously held as cash, being transferred to the company’s investment assets, which totalled $48 million at the end of 2015.
In the annual report Libby Christie referred to the Australian Balletâ€™s 2015-2019 strategic plan that â€ścommits the company to innovation through digital transformation.
â€śOur in-theatre audience growth is now complemented by our expanding online community.
â€śOverall, the Australian Balletâ€™s digital content was shared with 4.3 million people worldwide in 2015.
â€śWe were delighted that 350,000 people tuned into the live stream of our global digital initiative, World Ballet Day.
â€śOur recording and broadcast partnership with Foxtel enabled 200,000 viewers to get behind the scenes with Sleeping Beauty: Behind the Curtain and then experience the full production with a broadcast of David McAllister’s The Sleeping Beautyâ€ť.
Marketing and communications is an important element of the company as indicated by expenditure of $8.8 million last year compared with $7.3 million the previous year.