EXCLUSIVE: The Last Ship, a failure on Broadway, was a hit for the Public Theater .
In the fall of 2013, a year before the musical’s brief run at the Neil Simon Theatre, Sting played ten concerts of its songs at the downtown nonprofit, coinciding with the release of his album The Last Ship. According to the Public’s latest tax return, its benefit income after subtracting for direct expenses surged 60 percent to $3.2 million. That suggests a roughly million dollar gain in 2013-14 from the Sting engagement. (As in previous years, the Public also held a gala in Central Park.)
The Public paid $900,000 to Sting’s Steerpike Productions, according to the return. A theater spokeswoman said the star performed for free and the money covered rehearsal, performances, travel and lodging for his 14-piece band, including musical director Rob Mathes.
The concerts helped the Public increase net assets by 14 percent to $41.5 million — a preview of improving fortunes. The theater helped develop the play Eclipsed and the musicals Fun Home and Hamilton, all now on Broadway. Hamilton alone will likely yield many millions for the institution.