Theatre News

London theatre audiences top 15 million for first time

Box office revenues exceeded £700,000,000 according to SOLT figures just released

West End
West End
© Flickr/Arpad Lukacs

Society of London Theatre has released its figures for 2017, with theatre attendances topping 15 million for the first time since data collection began in 1986.

The number is up by 5.35 per cent compared to 2016 and the data is collected from all theatres with a membership to SOLT. Over the year the first two quarters marked a strong performance, but the final quarter of 2017 marked a noticeable fall in attendance and revenue.

In 2017, box office figures were up by 9.35 per cent, with gross revenue coming in at £705,006,928.

This year, the number of new productions was 258, which was 18 less than 2016 and marked the lowest number of new productions in a year since 2011.

The average ticket price paid in 2017 was £46.71, which marks a continuous increase, with last year's average price being £45 – an increase on 2015 of 4.68 per cent.

Sales from SOLT venues, generated VAT receipts of £117,501,155 for the Treasury, while 77.5 per cent of available seats were filled.

By genre, musicals still have the highest attendance and revenue, garnering 8,744,590 attendees, an increase on 2016 of eight per cent, and revenue of £436,611,108 – an increase of nine per cent on last year.

In comparison, attendance for plays was up seven per cent to 4,468,105 and revenue was up 16 per cent to £176,436,089. Accumulated figures for opera, dance, performance and entertainment was 1,881,878 – a decrease of seven per cent, while revenue was £91,959,731 up by one per cent on last year.

Kenny Wax, president of the Society of London Theatre, said: "The box office figures are a testament to the creative strength of London theatre and cements the city’s status as the world’s theatre capital.

"The industry has many reasons to celebrate but must remain cautious as we look ahead to the rest of 2018. It is heartening to have seen growth in audiences for both plays and musicals, however, the year is a tale of two halves with the industry operating in a tougher climate in the final two quarters."