The troubled Rose Theatre made a loss of £32,000 last year after a collapse in ticket sales The sharp loss comes just one year after the Rose had made its first ever profit, and has dampened hopes that the troubled, council funded theatre was about to become financially stable.
In 2011, the theatre sold 29,000 less tickets than the previous year, and saw a drop in box office income of 33 per cent.
Although theatres across the country have seen ticket sales decline, the drop in sales at the Rose Theatre is more than three times higher than the national average, according to the Arts Council of England, for the two-year period 2009-2011.
Mr Robert O’Dowd, new chief executive at the theatre, explained that the abrupt reversal of fortunes at the Rose was largely due to an exceptionally good 2010, rather than an exceptionally bad 2011.
Mr O’Dowd said: “In 2010 we were very fortunate to have Judi Dench in A Midsummer Nights Dream, Directed by Sir Peter Hall. The play was hugely successful and took far more at the box office than any other play we have produced.”
The drop in ticket sales last year means that the Rose has returned to sales figures last seen before the Judi Dench play in 2009, but that year the Rose made a much bigger loss of £325,000.
In 2011, losses were curbed by an increase in fundraising by the management, up 27%, and to the continued support from Kingston Council, £500,000, and from Kingston University, £380,000.
Mr O’Dowd said the Rose was planning to increase the number of plays it puts on, to attract more sales. He said: “We are increasing the number of Rose Theatre productions, which is the correct strategic move to make, with an objective of producing a mix of excellent work that across the year will appeal to the widest possible audience.”
He added: “We will break-even in 2011/12 and we are planning to make a profit in 2012/13, but without the assumption of a play of the scale of A Midsummer Nights Dream.”
Mr O’Dowd’s bullish remarks come despite rising unease in the council about funding for the loss-making theatre.
The theatre’s accountants are less convinced. In a letter accompanying the accounts, Moore Stephens LLP, the theatre’s auditor cast doubt on the theatre’s ability to survive. They wrote: “These conditions…indicate the existence of a material uncertainty which may cast significant doubt about the charitable company’s (The Rose Theatre) ability to continue as a growing concern.”
Probably, what The Rose needs, is just more Judi Dench’s.