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Increase in theatre goers, despite Jubilee and Olympic distractions

Tom Chambers (Jerry Travers) and the male ensemble in Top Hat at Aldwych Theatre. Picture: Brinkhoff and Mogenburg Tom Chambers (Jerry Travers) and the male ensemble in Top Hat at Aldwych Theatre. Picture: Brinkhoff and Mogenburg

Tuesday, January 29, 2013
11:04 AM

Audiences were not put off going to the theatre in 2012, despite distractions including the Queen’s Jubilee and the Olympics and Paralympics, figures released today show.

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Both theatre attendance and ticket revenue was up last year compared to 2011, the Society of London Theatre (SOLT) said today as it released its annual box office figures.

Gross sales of £529,787,692 were up 0.27 per cent and attendance increased 0.56 per cent to 13,992,773 year-on-year.

SOLT said the Olympics had a dampening effect on London theatre sales, partly due to venues closing on the night of the opening ceremony and planning schedules around the Games resulting in fewer performances overall during August.

But, SOLT said, more tickets were sold for the first week of the Games than were sold during the week of the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2011.

The organisation said the growth can be attributed to a very strong first half of the year and good sales during the autumn weeks.

Advance sales also grew considerably throughout the final quarter, which SOLT said showed audience confidence in the current productions and anticipation for the new shows that are to open this year.

Sales were boosted by several London theatres welcoming major new productions in 2012 such as Top Hat at the Aldwych Theatre, Sweeney Todd and The Bodyguard at the Adelphi Theatre, and the start of the Michael Grandage season at the Noël Coward. There was also continued success for West End transfers like One Man, Two Guvnors and Matilda The Musical.

Audiences for plays were up nine per cent in 2012 on the previous year.

Mark Rubinstein, SOLT’s president, said: “I am delighted that for the 9th year running we are able to report year-on-year growth in ticket income for London Theatres.

“It is particularly astonishing that we are able to report increasing sales – of over half a billion pounds – for a year that we always knew would have exceptional challenges.

“Against the background of a tough economic climate, London theatre continues to buck the trend, offering dazzling, world-class entertainment, which has audiences from both home and abroad flocking to the West End to catch exciting new productions as well as much-loved long running favourites.

“With the combined box office advance sales breaking new records we are looking forward to another year of success stories for our theatres.”

Box office figures are compiled on behalf of the industry by SOLT, and relate to the 52 major theatres, both commercial and grant-aided, in central London.

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