The National Theatre generated a record income of £87million in 2012/2013, with 59% taken by the much-lauded venue’s box office for numerous acclaimed shows presented at its Southbank home, as well as on tour and in the West End.
The announcement comes in the same month in which its global hit War Horse celebrates its sixth continuous year entertaining audiences in London, first at the NT itself before transferring to the New London theatre. The success of the show continues to grow with the institution’s 2012/2013 Annual Report also boasting 97% attendance rates for the First World War-set drama.
A similar level of success was also seen at the Southbank where the NT staged 26 productions amounting to an enormous 1,959 performances that achieved 90% attendance, of which 28% were first-time bookers.
Amongst the hit productions produced by the venue in the 2012/2013 financial year were 12 world premieres, including Olivier Award nominated shows The Effect and This House, and Simon Stephens’ record-breaking The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time, which was awarded more Olivier Awards than any other drama in the history of the long-established prizes at this year’s ceremony.
These new productions, as well as high-profile revivals of classics including Timon Of Athens and modern drama The Last Of The Haussmans, attracted audiences not only to the National’s imposing river-side building, but to cinemas across the world, with NT Live audiences growing to one and a quarter million, and 260 venues in the UK and 350 in more than 25 countries around the world participating in the digital revolution that brings the magic of theatre to the big screen.
West End successes War Horse and One Man, Two Guvnors, which is set to continue to entertain audiences at the Theatre Royal Haymarket until 1 March 2014 and also enjoyed a hit Broadway run last spring, were joined by fellow NT transfers The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time and Untold Stories; the four at one point playing simultaneously in Theatreland.
While the collective success of all these shows is the majority contributor to this year’s record revenue figure, which impressively represents more than double the income from the same period 10 years previously, 20% was made up by Arts Council funding. This year this amount was cut by 4.4% and over the past four years the reduction in funding will amount to a 23% decrease in real terms by 2014-2015.
This sobering fact was recognised by the venue’s Director Nicholas Hytner in his opening letter of the Annual Report. Closing on a characteristically inspiring note, Hytner concluded: “Under these circumstances, it may be necessary to go back to basics in the argument we make for ourselves. No matter how economically productive we are, no matter the strength of our work in bringing together the widest possible audience – in the end, we work here and you come here because we all believe that the theatre is transformational in itself. It challenges, it inspires, it elevates, it educates, and it enlarges the spirit of everyone who wants to make it part of their lives.”