London’s Theatreland reached a new high last year, with more than 14 million visits to the capital’s 52 major theatres recorded in 2009, generating over half a billion pounds in revenue.
Official figures released today by the Society of London Theatre show that both audience attendance and box office revenues set new records last year. While attendances increased by 5.5% on the previous year, box office revenues totalled £504,765,690 in 2009, a 7.6% increase on 2008.
It was a particularly impressive year for plays, which achieved a record attendance total of 3,637,714, a huge 26% up on 2008.
Among those productions that contributed to this success were Enron and Jerusalem at the Royal Court, Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart in Waiting For Godot at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, Jude Law in Hamlet at the Wyndham’s theatre and the premiere of Alan Bennett’s The Habit Of Art at the National Theatre. Both Shakespeare’s Globe and the Open Air theatre beat their own attendance records, while the Donmar West End season and the RSC season at the Novello theatre enjoyed strong sales, attracting many first time theatregoers.
Though musicals experienced a slight dip early in the year, productions including Oliver!, Avenue Q, the Young Vic’s Annie Get Your Gun and Legally Blonde The Musical contributed to a strong finish. Opera, dance and entertainment shows were up by 7%.
The figures mean that 2009 was the seventh consecutive year that attendance and revenue records have been set, proving that theatre in London continues to go from strength to strength, weathering the recession.
Commenting on the figures, Nica Burns, President of the Society of London Theatre, said: “Britain’s artistic community continues to create exceptional work. The extraordinary quality and breadth of productions available nightly in London explains these record figures in such a difficult year economically. Whilst our musicals continue to flourish, 2009 was an outstanding year for plays – proving that audiences respond to challenge and stimulation as well as toe-tapping entertainment. Excellence is everything – look no further than London’s theatre which adds a great deal more to London’s revenue than just the ticket sales.”
Box office figures are compiled on behalf of the industry by the Society of London Theatre and relate to the 52 major commercial and grant-aided theatres in the capital.