Opera Australia has posted a $7.1 million trading deficit for the year ended December 2020, or almost $6.5 million after bequests are included, which is “clearly a serious result”, concedes the outgoing Chief Executive Officer Rory Jeffes.

The company received $11.4 million in “absolutely critical” JobKeeper subsidies in 2020. “If we hadn’t had that $11.4 million, we would have been potentially looking at a $20 million trading loss, and that would have meant us having to take more drastic action,” says Jeffes.

Rory Jeffes. Photograph © Keith Saunders

The sizeable deficit, which follows a $198,534 trading surplus in 2019, was “pretty much what we were predicting in the last quarter of the last year” during attempts to balance fiscal responsibility with keeping the company together, he says.

The company has attributed its financial woes to the forced cancellations of all performances from March 2020 due to COVID-19, and comes despite the company making 56 staff redundant late last year, including 16 musicians.

Opera Australia did not qualify for sustainability funds because it owned a prop and wardrobe warehouse in Alexandria in inner-Sydney, which it...