Dubbo Regional Theatre manager Linda Christof understands a trip to Dubbo to attend a show is beyond the reach of some people battling drought in western NSW at the moment.
With about one-third of its patrons typically from outside the 2830 postcode the facility has long featured in a weekend of activities for visitors to the city, she reports.
But as the drought has tightened its grip, the theatre is seeing flow-on effects.
A total of 261 subscriptions were sold to the 2019 season of shows, “slightly down” on the previous year.
The theatre manager believes the dry time is reflected in the final number, and she expressed her concern for the plight of the region.
“In the past, it was definitely the trend they would come to Dubbo on the weekend, do their shopping, stay the night, go to see a show, go to the cultural centre, catch an exhibition and then go home,” Ms Christof said.
“And we’ve definitely noticed we’re not seeing the regulars, because understandably so.
“Even having the fuel is a luxury and it’s quite common during economic hardship that the first things to drop off are going to be the leisure end of the market.
“That’s understandable and we just hope the weather improves, nothing to do with the theatre at all, we just hope there’s some good rains to ease the strain off the farming community.”
Despite the backdrop of drought, the theatre has already chalked up a number of successes for 2019.
It sold out two performances of The Gruffalo, and had nearly sold out one of its 360 Allstars show, Ms Christof said.
Highest selling season shows in the subscription period, ending January 25, included A Migrant’s Son, The Sapphires and The Gospel According to Paul.
“We could really see those ticket sales spike during that period,” Ms Christof said.
“Also popular was the Russian Ballet, with Swan Lake.
“We always sell out those shows, and often we have to put on a second show.”
The Umbilical Brothers Speedmouse, a hirer-promoter show, had already sold more than 400 tickets, while the box office was “inundated” on Monday when tickets went on sale to new listing Dr Seuss’s Cat in the Hat.
Among subscribers, who are patrons who purchase a minimum of five shows from the season booklet, were some standouts.
“One gentleman that had purchased five subscriptions for family members for Christmas gifts and we’ve had quite a few newcomers who have subscribed, so they’ve come to the theatre in the past but they’ve taken the step to be a subscriber,” Ms Christof said.
Individual tickets are now on sale to all shows. The Sapphires, the first of the season shows, is on March 9.