Boyd Eliminates £2.8m Deficit in RSC Annual ReportDate: 12 November 2004
Ahead of schedule, artistic director Michael Boyd has managed to nearly completely eliminate the Royal Shakespeare Company’s £2.8 million deficit accumulated under his predecessor Adrian Noble (See News, 12 Dec 2003).
The company’s 2003/2004 Annual Report, released today at its Annual General Meeting in Stratford, shows better than anticipated results for the financial year ended 27 March 2004, which covers Boyd’s first 12 months in the job. Reduced spending across the organisation and healthy box office results – including the best results for more than a decade at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre - have led to an operating surplus of £2.4 million. The company is now on target to clear the remaining £400,000 deficit by the end of 2004.
Programming-wise, the year comprised 15 productions, presenting 1,226 performances for a total 712,220 theatregoers. Sixty-three percent of the audience caught one of those productions at the RSC’s home in Stratford-upon-Avon, while UK and overseas touring accounted for 17% and London audiences for 20%. Although during that period the RSC did not have a regular presence in London, there were commercially co-produced West End transfers for As You Like It, The Taming of the Shrew and The Tamer Tamed.
In today’s report, Boyd, executive director Vikki Heywood and chairman Sir Christopher Bland all reiterated the company’s commitment to resettling in the capital in addition to Stratford. “A permanent solution for London is now our goal,” said Bland. The six-month season - comprising the Tragedies (Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, King Lear and Hamlet) as well as next year’s production of Hecuba starring Vanessa Redgrave - which opens next week at the West End’s Albery Theatre is, they say, the first step towards that solution (See News, 15 Jul 2004).
Looking forward, the company’s London rethink will take priority alongside the £100 million redevelopment, as opposed to the controversial demolition proposed by Noble, of the Grade II-listed Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford. Plans for conversion of the RST into a more intimate-feeling thrust-stage auditorium were announced in September, with work due to start in spring 2007 at the conclusion of the year-long Complete Works of Shakespeare Festival (See News, 22 Sep 2004).
Commenting on the Annual Report, Bland said that the year had been a “period of transition…marked by a new clarity about our ambitions, renewed confidence in our artistic direction and improved finances. Success on stage and efficiency backstage have, between them, brought our finances back into balance.”
In his foreword to the report, Boyd also took the opportunity to reflect on “what I believe are the big questions for the RSC. Who are we and what can we offer that nobody else can?” Having spent the year considering the identity crisis and, moving “faster than I had expected” with returning the company to its founding principles, he goes on to answer that now “we know who we are: the country’s major ensemble theatre company, clearly dedicated to deepening the understanding and enjoyment of Shakespeare.”
- by Terri Paddock