News Column

London theatre audiences topped 22m in year

July 31, 2014

Mark Brown (Guardian arts correspondent), theguardian.com



More than 22 million people went to the theatre in London last year and box office takings amounted to nearly 620m a figure that outstrips that of the capital's cinemas and makes the city a world leader, according to a report.

The National Theatre and the Society of London Theatre commissioned Alistair Smith, editor of The Stage, to compile what is the first quantitative analysis of London theatre.

Helping to launch the report at City Hall, Munira Mirza, London's deputy mayor responsible for culture, said it presented "for the first time the industry nature of theatre and the fact that theatre is not some small subsidised, charitable sector it is a huge industry."

Smith's analysis says:

London has 241 professional theatres collectively able to seat more than 110,000 people.

In 2012/13 more than 22 million people went to a London theatre performance and 618.5m was taken at the box office. London cinema admissions totalled 43 million, meaning the average ticket price would need to be more than 14.40 which it is not for cinema to have a bigger box office figure than theatre.

At any one time, London theatres employ more than 3,000 performers, 5.500 full-time non-performing staff and a further 5,000 part time and 5,000 freelance staff.

The average price of a ticket was 27.26, down by more than 1 on the previous year.

Nick Starr, the executive director of the National Theatre, said he believed the figures as a whole showed that London was the world's leading city for theatre, ahead of New York.

"We think this number shows us that we are the world city for theatre. We can't absolutely prove that but we are throwing down the gauntlet to New York you do the same research. London is the best city to make theatre in the world. There's nothing you can't do."

Nick Allott, managing director of Cameron Mackintosh's theatre company, said the average price was a significant figure and more needed to be done to get the message across that going to the theatre could be cheap.

When asked about the increasing practice of shows such as The Book of Mormon charging in excess of 150 for premium stalls seats, Allott said it was driven by demand and it helped to make more cheap seats available.

Starr said it was "good money". He added: "Subsidised theatre doesn't pay artists, directors, writers, actors well enough for them to have a flourishing career. They need to make money in the commercial sector."


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Source: Guardian Web


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