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Report reveals depth of London theatre

First Published 29 July 2014, Last Updated 30 July 2014

London’s place as the theatre capital of the world was cemented today by a new report exploring the quantity of theatre available in the West End and beyond.

According to the London Theatre Report, written by the Editor of entertainment industry newspaper The Stage Alistair Smith, London boasts 241 professional theatres. These range from the bijou 30-seat space at the Lord Stanley Pub to the giant 3,600 seat Hammersmith Apollo.

The report, commissioned by the National Theatre and Society of London Theatre (SOLT), also found that while 14.6 million people visited a theatre in SOLT membership last year, the 2012/13 season saw a total of 22 million people visit any theatre across London.

Speaking in response to the report, Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “‏London is without doubt the theatre capital of the world. From the bright lights of the West End and our thriving fringe to the rise of immersive theatre in the unlikeliest of places, the quality, variety and breadth on offer here is unrivalled. Employing thousands and bringing in almost £620 million a year, theatre is also hugely important to our economy. This timely report puts the spotlight on the economics of the sector and provides food for thought about what is needed to ensure we enjoy many more encores for years to come.”

While the report highlights the breadth of theatre across the capital, it also highlights the importance of the West End, with theatres in Westminster alone responsible for more than one third of London’s seating capacity of 110,000.

The report, which also estimates that at any one time London’s theatres employ more than 3,000 performers and more than 6,500 full-time non-performing staff, is the first time a quantitative analysis of London’s theatre ecology has been attempted.

Nick Starr, Executive Director of the National Theatre, commented: “While there has been for some time an awareness that London is a world city for theatre, we’ve hitherto lacked the data to see just how big it is; and how the inter-connected sectors of commercial, subsidised – and the very significant further non-profit sector that works without subsidy – combine to form a vast audience for theatre. These are valuable insights not only for the capital, but also nationally and internationally – and valuable too, I hope, for policy makers across government.”

Theatre producer and SOLT Vice President Mark Rubinstein added: “This is the first time we have had the opportunity to consider the activity of all professional theatre and theatres across London and really map their size, range and engagement. This is a fantastic resource which acts as a snapshot of the theatrical ecology today and provides a benchmark for charting the evolution of London’s theatre scene in years to come.”


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