London Mayor Gives £500k for Cheap Theatre TixDate: 30 October 2001
London mayor Ken Livingstone (pictured) has committed to contribute £500,000 to help prop up London's suffering theatre industry as it struggles to cope with the effects of plummeting tourism, in the aftermath of the 11 September terrorist atrocity in the US. The half million pound injection will go towards 100,000 free and discounted theatre tickets and the promotion will run before the end of November. The mayor has also committed to free bus trips for Londoners.
Theatre owners, co-ordinated by the Society of London Theatres, are meeting with the Mayor's office this lunchtime to discuss the detail of how the pledged cash will filter down to the box office and into theatregoers' hands. What's more, this could be the first of several hand-outs. The Mayor's office told Whatsonstage.com today that Livingstone, would "look again" at the situation, once this initial funding has been distributed.
"This money is in direct response to calls from the theatres for a drive to win-back audiences. I hope that the free and subsidised tickets plus the free bus tickets will attract people back to London's theatres," said Livingstone. "We'll also be talking to London's leading restaurant owners to coordinate an additional incentive scheme and asking government, at least to match the amount I have already pledged."
Theatre producer, Cameron Mackintosh - who has attributed the early closure this past weekend of his The Witches of Eastwick to the post-terrorist downturn, said of the initiative: "This joint initiative with the Mayor, Ken Livingstone, is a groundbreaking and highly welcome kickstart to encourage British audiences to visit London in the immediate future." In the past, Mackintosh has been highly critical of the mayor, once describing him as "completely ineffective as someone trying to get the city going".
Theatre representatives are meeting with Culture Secretary, Tessa Jowell next Wednesday to ask for similar support from the government. Estimates vary as to the impact "stay away" tourists are having on the London theatre industry but ticket sales have dropped somewhere between 15% and 30%.
- by David Dobson