Opera Australia, ravaged by COVID, posted a massive $22.5 million loss, prompting a comprehensive review of the country’s largest performing arts organization.
The 2021 figure is more than three times the amount OA lost the previous year and occurred despite the company receiving federal and state COVID documents worth more than $21 million. . Widespread cancellations caused by lockdowns and border closures have wreaked havoc on the company’s bottom line.
“It’s not where we want to be at all,” said OA chief executive Fiona Allan, who took up the role late last year. “I focus on recovery. The biggest thing ahead of us is how to turn the situation around and in an environment where we are still affected by COVID.
OA called on the management consulting firm Dandolo Partners to chart a way out of the crisis, transform its operational model and bring out a “new look” company.
“What we’re doing right now isn’t sustainable in the long term,” Allan said, adding that the new management, which would likely put more emphasis on local talent and content and fewer imported stars, would be made public in the next three to four weeks.
In September 2020, at the height of the COVID outbreak, OA generated a storm of negative publicity after laying off 56 employees, including more than a quarter of its musicians.
While she was reluctant to comment in detail on future plans, Allan insisted that further layoffs were not on the horizon.
“Everybody’s had enough of this,” she said. “It’s about our own agility. It’s not about job losses at all. It’s about being able to streamline what we do. We are quite a cumbersome beast.