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Australia’s STC hits a bump

Box office was $11 million

SYDNEY — The Sydney Theater Company recorded numerous wins last year, but its annual report published this week reveals it still posted a deficit of A$253,000 ($240,000).

Result is the third successive shortfall for the company, with rising costs and ambitious programming outstripping gains in box office and other income.

Box office was $11 million, STC’s second-highest ever, and sponsorship and philanthropic income rose 9%.

Chairman Ian Darling said, “The deficit is a clear reflection of long-term structural financial challenges.”

There were three sold-out runs during 2007: “The Season at the Sarsaparilla”; “Blackbird,” directed by Cate Blanchett; and “Riflemind,” directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman.

The Melbourne Theater Company’s production of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” in the 800-seat Sydney Theater took in more than $2 million, a new STC box office record.

Blanchett and Andrew Upton took the company’s helm earlier this year, overseeing the final season programmed by departing topper Robyn Nevin.

So far, in 2008, subscriptions are down 10%, but increased single-ticket sales are partly making up that shortfall, with a season rich in new works and vast, war-themed epics that signal further cost increases for the company.

MTC, in contrast, reports subscriber figures at a five-year high, an increase of 22% in philanthropic activity and its eighth successive budget surplus in 2007.

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