7pm Thursday 16 May 2019
2018 was an incredible achievement for Sydney Theatre Company and a year of intense activity.
Kip Williams’ first season as Artistic Director announced a bold vision. We produced and presented fifteen works in our home venues (one of them a seven-hour, two-part epic The Harp in the South), completed the world premiere run of Muriel’s Wedding the Musical, and toured three productions through seventeen stops across four states.
More than half of our shows in 2018 were directed by women, and more than half were also written by women – the first time in STC’s history that we have achieved parity in these fields. Australian work made up 80% of the program and three of the fifteen productions were written by Indigenous playwrights. The season included the premiere of Going Down, the development of which was assisted by our ongoing partnership with Contemporary Asian Australian Performance, and we also co-presented a season of Black is the New White with Riverside Theatres, as part of our audience development initiatives in Western Sydney. The season was a major success in the eyes of artists, critics and, most importantly, you, our audiences.
This success was all the more impressive given the practical challenges of programming around STC’s temporary departure from The Wharf at Walsh Bay, our headquarters since 1984. In June we completely vacated our home to facilitate a comprehensive Wharf Renewal Project. The first major upgrade of our facilities in 34 years, it was planned to coincide with the NSW Government’s rejuvenation of the Walsh Bay Arts Precinct, and will ensure that we remain at the forefront of theatre practice for the coming decades.
This project is ambitious. From a financial point of view, it requires not only the $60M specifically raised towards direct project costs, but significant draws from reserves to offset the temporary loss of The Wharf’s two theatres, work spaces and bar.
Every year that STC spends off The Wharf costs us approximately $2.5M in lost revenue, the cost of replacement venues, and logistical expenses. This demand on financial resources will last until the beginning of 2021 when we re-occupy our home and begin to take advantage of the artistic, operational and economic benefits the refurbishment will provide.
Our financial result for 2018, a group deficit of $1.3 million, was consistent with the multi-year plan relating to both ongoing company operations and the Wharf Renewal Project. The continued support of our audiences, and the generosity of our key public and private supporters, gives us the confidence to make the ongoing investments needed.
We would particularly like to thank our loyal audiences, donors and partners for enabling Sydney Theatre Company to present the very best theatre possible while we build our future – we couldn’t do it without you.