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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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box office figures

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