Takings at theatres in London’s West End have increased for the eighth consecutive year with box offices recording ticket sales of £528m in 2011, according to figures.
Total revenues at the box office rose by three per cent on 2010’s figures to reach £528,375,874 last year, said the Society of London Theatre (SOLT). The increase in VAT from 17.5 per cent to 20 per cent is thought to have been behind much of the rise, with the increase estimated at about one per cent once VAT is stripped out.
The average attendance per performance went up by 10 tickets from 2010 to reach 770, but overall attendance fell by approximately two per cent to 13,915,815 across 52 commercial and not-for-profit houses.
Commercial venues had 146 dark weeks – when theatres are closed to the public – contributing to the fall in overall attendance. There were just 85 dark weeks in 2010.
The sharp increase in dark weeks can be largely explained by the opening of two big new productions, which required theatres to shut for several months while preparations were made. Shrek the Musical at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane and The Wizard of Oz at London Palladium caused the closures.
SOLT president Mark Rubinstein said: “We are extremely proud that our theatres have yet again gone on to achieve another record-breaking year of sales, with many shows announcing record-breaking runs of their own.
“Despite the prevailing rigours of the economic climate, theatre-goers have acted with their feet and wallets and shown just how much they value a trip to one of our world-class shows.
“We can confirm buoyant box office advances for 2012, a year in which we look forward to welcoming millions more national and international visitors through our theatre doors.”
Plays performed well last year, recording a revenue rise of 10 per cent and an attendance increase of two per cent. SRO productions of Jerusalem, Much Ado About Nothing, Yes, Prime Minister, The Ladykillers, Frankenstein, Noises Off and Richard III with Kevin Spacey were among the most popular shows.
Revenue went up one per cent for performances in other categories, such as dance, opera, entertainment and performance, to hit £82m despite a four per cent fall in attendance figures.