Esplanade ticket sales take a hit

The Esplanade was hit by a drop in income of about 40 per cent from ticket sales in the last financial year, the worst in five years.

Box office takings fell to $4.35 million from $7.45 million a year ago, said Singapore's premier arts centre in its latest annual report for the year ending March 2013.

The takings were even worse than the $4.62 million recorded during the 2009 financial crisis.

The Esplanade cited two reasons for the plunge: the low ticket prices set for events held to celebrate its 10th anniversary last year; and competition from new venues such as The Star Vista in Buona Vista and theatres in the Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa integrated resorts.

The Esplanade has other sources of revenue - sponsorships and donations totalled about $6 million, a rise from about $5.5 million in the previous year.

But this could not make up for the fall, resulting in its total income shrinking to $28.98 million, from $31.27 million the year before.

The Esplanade is a non-profit organisation which received about $46 million last year from the Government and the National Arts Council. It ended the year with a small net balance of $137,000.

Chief executive officer Benson Puah said The Esplanade will continue to support performances even when they may not turn in a profit.

He said: "We will not compete with commercial presenters for works that are already commercially viable. Our role is to help the industry flourish with even more diversity and for our audiences to benefit from it."

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