Sydney Theatre Company’s operating revenue dropped by $17.8 million in 2020, compared to 2019, because of the impact of COVID-19, which shuttered performance venues around the world and led to the cancellation of seven of STC’s scheduled 12 productions.

“It is no exaggeration to say we may not have made it through,” said Executive Director, Patrick McIntyre as STC released its 2020 financial statement.

Eryn Jean Norvill in The Picture of Dorian Gray. Photograph © Daniel Boud

The company – which is Australia’s biggest subsidised theatre – only managed to survive thanks to a $6 million emergency grant from the NSW State Government as part of its Rescue and Restart Initiative, along with $4.7 million from the Federal Government’s JobKeeper program. This was further buoyed by a $2.4 million increase in philanthropic donations, with 8,879 individual gifts made to the company over the course of the year, including $1.3 million worth of tickets to cancelled shows being donated back rather than being taken as refunds.

As a result STC ended 2020 with an operating deficit of $4 million.

“It goes without saying that 2020 was a tough time for the arts sector, and added further risk...