2007's Record Figures Make for West End MiracleDate: 18 January 2008
As many in the subsidised sector continue to reel from the repercussions of the Arts Council’s controversial funding cut proposals (See News, 17 Jan 2008), the West End has cause to celebrate. Figures, released today by the Society of London Theatre (SOLT), show that Theatreland has beaten its own box office records again in 2007, with attendances and ticket revenues up substantially on the previous year’s record-breaking figures (See News, 19 Jan 2007).
The figures - which are compiled from the 53 major theatres in central London, primarily commercial but also including grant-aided flagships such as the National, Royal Court, Almeida and Donmar Warehouse - show a total of 13,630,810 trips were made to see a London show in 2007 (up from 12,357,153 in 2006).
The success of reality TV casting competitions Any Dream Will Do and Grease Is the Word - which found stars Lee Mead, Danny Bayne and Susan McFadden for West End revivals of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Grease - and other television crossovers helped fuel growth, with first-time theatregoers responsible for many of the attendances.
The year also benefited from high-profile casting, including the stage debuts of film heartthrobs Daniel Radcliffe and Orlando Bloom, both nominated for Newcomer of the Year in the Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers’ Choice Awards (click here to vote!), as well as blockbuster musicals like Hairspray and Tolkien epic The Lord of the Rings.
Total ticket revenue in 2007 rose to £469,729,135 (up from £400,802,809 in 2006), generating VAT receipts of £70 million. Despite the growth, a note of caution was sounded.
Commenting on the figures, SOLT President Rosemary Squire said: "This is obviously excellent news for the industry, for all those who work in it, and for the UK economy. The ‘Theatre Capital of the World’ continues to come up with shows that the public want to see. It’s a costly business, however, putting on world-class theatre, and we’re investing more and more in productions to meet public expectations. However, for the moment, I think we can all celebrate an on-going success story."
The figures are released in the year that SOLT - the trade body representing theatre producers and owners which, amongst other things, organises the Laurence Olivier Awards, the annual Get into London Theatre ticket discount promotion and Kids Week – celebrates its centenary.
SOLT Chief Executive Richard Pulford added today: "2007 was something of an annus mirabilis for London theatre with many new productions which caught the public imagination. These figures are a wonderful start to our Centenary Year – but we’re under no illusions that in the current economic climate we’re going to have to work very hard to maintain this level of success."
- by Terri Paddock