London theatre attendance higher than ever at 15 million in 2017

Theatre audience

Theatre attendances in London topped 15 million in 2017, the first time this has happened since records began in 1986, new figures published by the Society of London Theatre (SOLT) have shown.

The numbers also show that box office revenue was up 9.35% on 2016, with gross revenue reaching £705,006,928. 77.5% of available seats were filled (up 0.8% compared to 2016).

Compared to 2016, attendance at musicals was up 8% (to 8,774,590), and up at musicals by 7% (to 4,468,105). The rise in musicals could be attributed to new longer-running shows opening in the West End like 42nd Street or Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, while popular plays such as The Ferryman and Ink could be responsible for the boost in the rise of numbers for plays.

However, attendance at opera, dance, performance and entertainment (“other”) was down 7% (to 1,881,878).

In the release, SOLT says the record year was driven by a strong first two quarters, but there was a noticeable fall in attendance and revenue in the last quarter of the year.

Kenny Wax, the president of SOLT, said: “The box office figures are a testament to the creative strength of London theatre and cements the city’s status as the world’s theatre capital.

"The industry has many reasons to celebrate but must remain cautious as we look ahead to the rest of 2018. It is heartening to have seen growth in audiences for both plays and musicals, however, the year is a tale of two halves with the industry operating in a tougher climate in the final two quarters."

The statistics were compiled by SOLT, and relate to all major theatres in central London, both commercial and grant-aided.

Photo courtest TED Conference (flickr)

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