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Theatre more popular than sport and music

Published 26 September 2013

A new survey released today suggests people are more likely to attend a theatre performance in the UK than a sporting event or music concert.

The State Of Play: Theatre UK report, based on research commissioned by ticketing agent Ticketmaster, found that 63% of those asked had been to the theatre in the past year with only 53% attending a concert and 47% a sports match.

The research, carried out by Ticketmaster’s LiveAnalytics division, makes for encouraging reading for the theatre industry, with 76% of people surveyed having taken in a show in the last three years, and two thirds of them eager to maintain or increase their theatregoing habit.

More surprising among the statistics turned up by the survey was the fact that only 5% of those asked claimed casting was the primary reason for choosing a show, focussing more on the show’s content (51%) and reputation (16%). Encouragingly for those who take a more relaxed approach to their theatregoing, more than half of the responders (52%) thought it was acceptable to dress casually for a night at the theatre.

Of those questioned by the survey, which took in 1,006 UK residents, 200 from the US, 100 each from Australia and Ireland and 50 from Germany, the majority of theatregoers fell into the 25-44 years old age bracket, though surprisingly 16-19 year olds emerged as the group most likely to attend the theatre. Possibly reflecting younger audiences, one in four tweet about a show before or after the performance.

While newspapers seem to continue downgrading the importance of arts coverage, two in five of those surveyed still felt reviews and articles were key to their choices about theatregoing, and in results that support Society of London Theatre’s (SOLT) own findings in its regular survey, the State Of Play report found that theatregoers also spent money on dinner (91%), drinks (88%) and an overnight stay (42%) as part of their trip.

The Ticketmaster survey, which took place between 3 and 23 May 2013, is the latest in a number of surveys exploring the habits of theatregoers. SOLT, the company representing London’s major theatre owners and producers, which also runs this website, conducts its own West End Audience survey on a regular basis, the last being published in 2010.

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