This year's Charlottetown Festival deemed 'great success' despite some low numbers

After crunching box office numbers, the Confederation of the Arts is calling the 2019 Charlottetown Festival a success — but not without some challenges.

Tens of thousands took in shows and art exhibits this season

'We had a wonderful festival this summer,' says Confederation Centre CEO Steve Bellamy. 'We're really proud.' (Submitted)

After crunching box office numbers, the Confederation of the Arts is calling the 2019 Charlottetown Festival a success — but officials say it was not without some challenges.

About 73,000 people took in the festival's offerings including musicals and art exhibits said Steve Bellamy, CEO of the centre.

With 49 performances this season, Anne of Green Gables —The Musical averaged 622 patrons per show, with more than 30,000 audience members throughout the summer for Anne

"I think that's pretty consistent for the last three years. We like to see 600 people on average, so 622 was great," he said.

The mainstage theatre seats about 1,100 patrons. 

'Did not live up to our hopes'

While the Confederation Centre was excited for the return of Mamma Mia!  to the mainstage after it was a huge success in 2016, Bellamy said numbers were a little disappointing. It averaged 565 people per show, over 33 performances.

'It did not live up to our hopes for attendance,' says Bellamy of Mamma Mia! (Charlottetown Festival)

"It did not live up to our hopes for attendance. While the people that went loved it ... we didn't quite get the attendance we would have hoped for," Bellamy said.

Across the street at the Centre's 200-seat theatre The Mack, Spinning Yarns did well, said Bellamy, with 31 shows overall averaging 150 patrons per show.

Tara MacLean's Atlantic Blue also brought in good audience numbers with an average of 168 patrons per show.

"The Mack was a very popular spot this summer," Bellamy said. 

'Not every show ... can be a success'

Despite more national media coverage than any other show since Evangeline in 2013, Kronborg — The Hamlet Rock Musical drew in just over 5,400 patrons with an average attendance of 362 people.

Tara MacLean with supporting company perform at The Mack. (Julia Cook )

"We would have liked to have seen more patrons at that one, but it was a brief run and we were very proud of the show, it was a wonderful production," Bellamy said. "We were hoping it would be closer to 500 or 600 per show."

Bellamy noted part of the centre's mandate is to support Canadian productions, like Kronborg, whether or not they will earn profits. 

"Not every show that we put on stage can be a success," he said. "There are so many other benefits besides the number of people that actually go." 

84% satisfaction rate

The Young Company show Aqsarniit — the 'northern lights' in Inuktitut — which played daily at noon in the outdoor amphitheatre was "well-received" Bellamy said, estimating 200 to 300 people saw the show, adding up to about 10,000 throughout the summer. 

Kronborg — The Hamlet Rock Musical drew in just over 5,400 patrons during its run this past summer. (Louise Vessey/Confederation Centre of the Arts)

The Confederation Centre Art Gallery saw about 20,000 patrons visit between May and October, Bellamy said. About 7,500 people took part in Art in the Open in August, which the centre co-produced.

The centre surveyed patrons about their experience this summer and of the more than 3,000 who answered, 84 per cent rated their overall experience as excellent, Bellamy said.

Next season the summer festival will once again feature Anne alongside The Drowsy Chaperone on the mainstage and Dear Rita about the life and music of Rita MacNeil at The Mack, as well as new Canadian comedy Bed and Breakfast.

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With files from Angela Walker


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