Theatre News

November theatre ticket sales hit their highest number since the pandemic began, research shows

Data from the last month has been revealed by TRG and Purple Seven

Shaftesbury Avenue
Shaftesbury Avenue

November 2020 saw the biggest volume of sales for stage shows since the pandemic began, new research has shown.

Conducted by international arts management consultants TRG Arts and UK arts data specialists Purple Seven, the figures are taken from 228 locations across the UK.

Box office income was up by over 50 per cent on October 2020, when a number of locations were also able to recommence performances with social distancing. They were also up by a similar amount compared with the late summer, when outdoor locations could present shows with social distancing and risk mitigation measures. TRG says the new figures display a "marked improvement" on what came before.

While the number of tickets sold only rose by around 5 per cent on October 2020, the value of each ticket seems to have increased significantly. This makes sense as blockbuster productions, preparing to open in December, drew more interest and consumer investment.

With a large portion of venues remaining closed and open auditoria having to abide by social distancing, it goes without saying that box office income is lower than 2019. Some audience members simply don't want to travel to see shows given the circumstances – an entirely reasonable attitude to take. However, the current trend is a positive sign for an industry itching to return to providing magic for audiences in both a safe and vibrant fashion.

Jill Robinson, CEO, TRG Arts said: "The trend is in the right direction. Significant government support in the UK is allowing organisations to take risks and program socially distanced events that would not otherwise be economically viable."

In the US, Robinson sounded more optimistic given the recent election result: "Hopefully the new administration will be more willing to acknowledge the critical economic and societal roles of arts and culture in our lives."

There were other positive signs of goodwill in the industry – with data on philanthropy from a smaller sample of not-for-profit venues showing that November gift revenue had exceeded what it had been in 2019 by 52 per cent.

David Brownlee, managing director of Purple Seven, who conducted the research, said: "Leaders of cultural organizations in the U.K. have just had a particularly challenging few weeks in a year like no other. While uncertainty remains in so many places as to whether the Christmas show will or won't go on, activity planned thanks to the U.K.'s Culture Recovery Fund and the National Lottery's Pantomime program is clearly demonstrating pent up demand and that for so many people Christmas just isn't Christmas without a trip to their local theatre".

TRG and Purple Seven are expected to have more news about annual figures and December's numbers in the coming weeks.

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