Theatre News

Industry leaders urge retention of higher theatre tax relief rates – warning that the number of productions on stages will drop

The importance of the rate on UK theatre’s health was highlighted in a major study

David Tennant and Cush Jumbo, © Marc Brenner

The Society of London Theatre (SOLT) and UK Theatre today released the results of a survey highlighting the success of the higher rate of Theatre Tax Relief (TTR) – which is set to be gradually removed from next April.

Introduced in 2021, the higher rate has played a pivotal role in bolstering the theatre sector’s recovery from the pandemic, mitigating the challenges of rising costs through tax relief.

According to respondents, the current TTR rates have facilitated larger-scale productions, with many producing more shows than would have been possible at a lower rate. This increase in production has led to the creation of nearly 15,000 jobs in the sector, allowing theatres to employ more people and stimulate economic growth – with theatres also bolstering business for local hospitality and transport.

Further insights from the study highlighted how the higher rate of TTR has empowered theatres to present bolder productions and invest in talent pipelines, ensuring a diverse range of voices and stories are represented on stage.

Shows that benefitted from the TTR rate included Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which has toured across the nation, the WhatsOnStage Award-winning Guys and Dolls, and Mark Gatiss’ A Christmas Carol. Furthermore, it has facilitated investment in research and development, leading to innovative productions like Donmar Warehouse’s hit adaptation of Macbeth starring David Tennant and Cush Jumbo, pictured above.

The current higher rate of TTR (45/50 per cent) is currently set to be tapered off from April 2025, with an interim rate for a year before the figure drops to 20/25 per cent in 2026.

Without the higher rate, the survey has stated that there will be a significant reduction in the number of productions and playing weeks planned for 2026 – a loss of almost a third in total.

Claire Walker, co-chief executive of SOLT and UK Theatre, stressed the importance of retaining the higher rate of TTR: “The higher rate of TTR is a highly effective economic stimulus, enabling the sector to take risks and be bold. Our research shows that losing the higher rate will lead to fewer and smaller productions, which in turn means fewer jobs and a smaller contribution to local and national economies. That’s why we urge the government to retain the higher rate, which is fundamental to the success and growth of our world class theatre sector, and which will enable our members to continue to deliver enormous benefits throughout the UK.”

Eleanor Lloyd, president of Society of London Theatre, added: “The higher rate of tax relief directly enables the creation of groundbreaking productions, the hiring of more talent, and brings exhilarating live shows to audiences. It is a fundamental enabler of the UK’s world-leading theatre, which simultaneously grows the economy and delivers transformative social good to communities across the country.”