London theatre buoyant in 2010

Reporter: Matthew Amer, first published Thu 27 Jan 2011 10:25

Despite hard economic times in the UK, 2010 proved to be another successful year for London theatre, according to figures released today by the Society of London Theatre (SOLT).

More than 14 million theatregoers – a total of 14,152,230 – attended a performance in one of London’s major venues last year, only the second time this mark has been reached. This impressive audience number, though down 0.79% on 2009, led to a record year at the box office, with theatres taking £512,331,808, contributing £76,304,737 to the treasury in VAT receipts.

Commenting on the figures, Nica Burns, President of SOLT, commented: “Another great year for London theatre. Despite economic woes, volcanic ash and huge transport disruption, notably during our busiest time of the year at Christmas, we have managed our seventh successive year of growth at the box office. A huge range of superb productions ensured that a visit to the theatre was a must-do for large numbers of the public. London theatre is something for everyone to be proud of and is a great ambassador for UK plc.”

The impressive figures, which also include a rise in the number of performances to 18,615, come against a backdrop of economic uncertainty, with the recent announcement of an estimated 0.5% contraction in the UK economy for the final quarter of 2010. Though the inclement winter weather affected London theatre towards the end of the year, attendance levels remained strong.

While nearly 8.5 million theatregoers made a trip to the capital to see a musical last year, a fall of 3%, plays were in the ascendancy with their 3.7 million audience members marking a 2% rise on 2009’s total.

“People have voted with their feet again by flocking to London's theatres,” said Julian Bird, Chief Executive of SOLT. “Our customers experience the huge variety of shows that we stage each year, and in these difficult economic times are enjoying the theatre just as much. 2011 promises to be another exciting year for theatre and we look forward to entertaining people again.”

The achievements of London theatre in 2010 will be celebrated at the prestigious Laurence Olivier Awards, held this year at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane on 13 March. The leading prize in British theatre’s awards season is to be re-launched for 2011, with news about these changes and the all important nominees to be released on 7 February.