Sydney fest back in black after 4 years

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SYDNEY -- The fiscal fortunes of the Sydney Film Festival have turned around, with this year's festival recording a profit for the first time in four years, the festival board said Tuesday.

Fueled by an increase in ticket sales thanks to more flexible packages, the 53rd edition of the festival reported an operating surplus of AUS$32,052 ($24,359).

That result was a "significant improvement" on 2005's operating deficit of AUS$241,704, the board said in a statement.

Total festival attendance reached 123,410 paid admissions, with flexible ticketing packages being the major growth area, reaching 79,000 admissions, up 26.5% from 2005.

Sydney Film Festival co-presidents Jacqui Feeney and Mark Sarfaty said the 2006 result "supports the direction of the strategic renewal under way at all levels of the festival organization and ensures a solid platform for growth."

This year's event was the first under a two-year program instituted by the current board to revitalize the festival. It will continue next year under the artistic direction of Clare Stewart, who joined the organization in July from the Australian Center for the Moving Image, where she was head of film programs.
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