Figures released today indicate that 2007 was a record-breaking year for London theatre, with both attendances and ticket revenues exceeding the previous benchmarks. The announcement comes at the start of the centenary year for the Society of London Theatre (SOLT) and London’s Theatreland, and is a fitting way to start the celebrations with a bang.
The new attendance record (13,630,810) smashes the previous high, with 1.25 million more people attending London’s plays, musicals, opera and dance than in 2006. Due to this increase in audiences, London theatre broke another record, taking £469,729,135 in ticket receipts and contributing £70 million in VAT receipts to the government.
The particularly good news for many theatres was an increase in first-time theatregoers swelling the attendance numbers.
Rosemary Squire, President of SOLT, said of the figures: “This is obviously excellent news for the industry, for all those who work in it, and for the UK economy. The theatre capital of the world continues to come up with shows that the public want to see. It’s a costly business, however, putting on world-class theatre, and we’re investing more and more in productions to meet public expectations. However, for the moment, I think we can all celebrate an on-going success story.”
The rise in audience numbers in 2006 and 2007 coincides with the escalation of London theatre’s profile. The arrival of large scale musicals such as Dirty Dancing, The Lord Of The Rings, Monty Python’s Spamalot and Wicked, the televised search for the stars of The Sound Of Music, Grease and Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and the influx of Hollywood stars to the London stage have kept Theatreland in the news and increased interest.
The Chief Executive of SOLT, Richard Pulford, offered a cautionary note to go with the celebrations: “2007 was something of an annus mirabilis for London theatre, with many new productions which caught the public imagination. These figures are a wonderful start to our centenary year – but we’re under no illusions that in the current economic climate we’re going to have to work very hard to maintain this level of success.”