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The Confederation Centre was built in 1964, the centenary of the Charlottetown Conference, as a memorial to Confederation. (CBC)

The Confederation Centre of the Arts says it has paid off a significant portion of its $500,000 deficit, but it hasn't been easy.

"We've done an excellent job of cutting into that deficit.  We've done that by reducing our expenses.  We had a five per cent reduction right across the centre," said centre CEO Jessie Inman.

Inman would not say how much the deficit has been reduced, but says the centre's accountants are now auditing the books.

The centre’s finances dipped into the red after lower than expected ticket sales. Managers cut back the staff’s hours and shut down the centre for two weeks in January 2012.

But as of April 1, Inman said staffing is back to normal.

The centre's mandate is to promote Canadian culture so, while it continues to chip away at the deficit, the centre is presenting a new Canadian musical. Pre-production work is now in full swing for Evangeline. It's billed as a musical romance set in colonial Acadia.

But high culture can be a tough sell.

"We always maintained that we have to hold to our mandate. That is to produce original Canadian theatre that matters,’ said Wade Lynch, associate artistic director.

Ticket sales will be vital to paying down the deficit. Earned revenues account for 60 per cent of the centre's funding.

As a memorial to Confederation, the centre gets 35 per cent of its operating budget from Ottawa and nine provincial and territorial governments.

"We completely rely on Islanders and when they come up to the box office and buy a ticket that tells us whether or not we're going to break even that year," said Inman.

Results of the financial audit and a precise update on the deficit will be presented at the centre's annual meeting in June.

Corrections

  • This story previously stated Confederation Centre closed for three weeks in December. In fact, it closed for two weeks in January 2012.
    May 02, 2013 11:35 AM AT