Regional theatres enjoy a rise in ticket sales
A report from UK Theatre analyses the overall size and financial impact of regional theatre in the UK
Figures released from a report from UK Theatre indicate a rise in ticket prices by more than 5% across the UK last year as venues adapted to make up for funding cuts.
Despite significant cuts to public funding, regional theatre continued to prove popular in 2014 with a slightly higher proportion of available tickets sold and cash value achieved than in 2013.
The average ticket price outside central London was £23.77 in 2014 - up 5.5% compared with 2013, according to the report. However, the UK Theatre figures do not cover the West End - where the average ticket price rose 5.1% to £42.29 last year.
Findings from the report show that in 2014, family musicals were the most popular shows, with productions taking almost £1 in every £4 at the box office. Hit touring musicals such as The Lion King, Wicked and Shrek were among those enjoying a growth in ticket sales.
'Adult' musical tours which enjoyed success in 2013 - Dirty Dancing, Ghost, and Priscilla Queen Of The Desert - saw the steepest decline but overall the market share for musicals increased due to the growth in audiences and income for family musicals.
Demand for plays, on the other hand, was down 7% - from 3.9 million tickets sold in 2013 to 3.6 million last year.
Plays were most popular in the West Midlands - partly because of the presence of the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon.
Opera, which enjoyed an increase in ticket sales from 2013 to 2014, was most popular in Wales, with comedy successful in the east of England.
In West Sussex, the Chichester Festival Theatre has lost £300,000 of annual local government funding. In response, it has introduced a flexible pricing system, adding up to £5 to the top ticket prices if shows prove popular once they go on sale.
According to executive director Alan Finch, the strategy earns £100,000 per year. He said: "Because we've lost about 50% of local authority funding, we had to look at how we fill the gap.
UK Theatre president Rachel Tackley commented on the figures, adding: "We're seeing the result of the cuts that we've witnessed over many years and theatres have to make their own decisions about how they're able to cope with those.
"Do they reduce the quantity and quality of their work and numbers of people on stage, or do they put ticket prices up by what is actually not a huge amount?
"The good news from this report is that theatres throughout the UK continue to thrive despite the challenging financial climate. As the 2015 UK Theatre Awards demonstrated, regional theatres continue to produce some of the country's most exciting theatre despite unprecedented cuts to national and local funding."