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London plays and musicals on Shaftesbury Avenue

London plays and musicals on Shaftesbury Avenue

Over 15.5 million attend London theatres in 2018

Published 23 January 2019

Society of London Theatre (SOLT) and UK Theatre have released data for ticket sales across their member venues in 2018. The figures reveal a combined audience of over 34m and ticket revenue of nearly £1.28bn, from a total of 62,945 performances over the course of the year in the West End and across the UK.

London’s West End theatres drew in audiences totalling over 15.5m last year, resulting in box office revenue of over £765m – both record figures, generating over £127m in VAT for the Treasury. The year saw an increase in the number of performances to 18,708, up 2.8% from 2017. Hit shows including Hamilton had an impact on overall ticket sales in a very strong year for musicals, while plays experienced a dip in attendances and revenue.

Audiences for theatre across the rest of the country topped 18.8m, with a box office of over £509m. Theatres reported a slight increase in attendances, and also number of performances (44,237, up 0.2% from 2017), as well as a rise in income and average ticket price. This was largely due to increased yield at the biggest presenting houses, which bounced back after a small dip in 2017. Smaller producing theatres saw the largest dip in attendance and revenue, falling back in line with previous years after an unusually strong 2017.

2018 SOLT Highlights:

  • Attendances of 15,548,154 (up 3.0% compared to 2017)
  • Gross revenue of £765,800,051 (up 8.6% compared to2017)
  • Average ticket price paid £49.25 (up 5.5% compared to 2017)
  • 77.5% of available seats filled
  • 18,708 performances

2018 UK Theatre Highlights:

  • Attendances of 18,806,659 (up 0.3% compared to 2017)
  • Gross revenue of £509,567,967 (up 8.4% compared to 2017)
  • Average ticket price paid £27.10 (up 8.0% compared to 2017)
  • 61% of available seats filled
  • 44,237 performances

Kenny Wax, President of the Society of London Theatre, said: “As these figures show, London’s world-leading theatre industry is attracting larger audiences than ever after another record year.

“Increasingly, people seem to want to invest in high quality cultural experiences, and the West End is benefiting from this trend. We must be cautious heading into 2019, however, as the combined effects of some theatres going dark for renovations, major musicals closing and an uncertain political climate might have an impact in the coming months.”

Fiona Allan, President of UK Theatre, said: “2018 was generally a good year for the UK’s theatre sector, which proved robust in a difficult economic climate.

“London’s West End enjoys a symbiotic relationship with the rest of London and across the nations, with fantastic new writing and revivals originating all over the country and ending up in West End theatres, and West End productions touring the UK.”

Society of London Theatre (SOLT) is a not-for-profit organisation representing the London theatre industry.

SOLT runs the Olivier Awards – British theatre’s most prestigious awards ceremony – which this year takes place on Sunday 7 April at the Royal Albert Hall. SOLT also runs West End LIVE, TKTS, Theatre Tokens, Kids Week and Official London Theatre.

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We are now cancelling all performances up until and including 31 May 2020 to help us process existing bookings whilst we wait for further clarity from the government in terms of when we will be able to reopen.

We are so sorry that in these testing and difficult times you are not able to enjoy the show you have booked for and hope the following helps clarify next steps in respect of your tickets .

There is nothing that you need to do if your performance has been cancelled, but we do ask for your patience.

If you have booked directly with the theatre or show website for an affected performance, please be assured that they will contact you directly to arrange an exchange for a later date, a credit note/voucher or a refund. If you have booked via a ticket agent they will also be in contact with you directly.

We are processing in strict date order of performance, so you are likely to be contacted after the date you were due to go to the theatre. However, we want to reassure you that you will be contacted, and your order will be processed, but please do bear with us.

We’d like to thank everyone who has been patient and kind in dealing with their ticket providers so far and we are sorry that we cannot process your order as quickly as we would like.

Please do not contact your credit card company as that will slow the process down and put an additional burden on our box office and ticket agent teams.

In order for us to serve our audiences the best we can, please do not get in touch with your point of sale if you have booked for performances after 31 May. Please be reassured that if we have to cancel future performances you will be directly contacted by your theatre or ticket provider. Our producers continue to plan for all eventualities dependent on the individual needs of their shows and we will provide further updates on specific shows as and when they become available.

We look forward to welcoming you back into our theatres as soon as we are allowed to resume performances. In the meantime stay safe and healthy.

While theatres are currently closed, various venues and productions are making announcements for their individual shows, including cancellations and rescheduled performances. Please check with the individual shows for details.