Industry News

Theatre prices lead to record attendance decline

Inflated ticket prices reportedly kept people from attending theatre shows in 2017, according to new figures from UK Theatre.

Fiona Allan, president of UK Theatre, said that the drop in regional theatre attendance could indicate tickets becoming unaffordable. The average ticket price has risen by 1.5 per cent to £25.08, breaking the £25 mark for the first time.

In addition to less people showing up, total takings at the box office are also down.

More than 200 member venues took a reduced total of £469.8m from ticket sales in 2017, which is a drop of £1.9m from the previous year.

The total number of tickets sold fell from 19 million to 18.7 million, a 1.87 per cent decline from 2016.

The 2017 figures represent the largest year-on-year reduction in both the number of tickets sold and the gross income since UK Theatre began recording this data in 2013, according to The Stage.

The decline is in spite of a 2.9 per cent increase in the total number of performances in 2017 to 44,135. This indicates the average attendance per performance has dropped from 445 to 424.

According to The Stage, Allan praised the industry for its “continued strength and resilience” despite the economic climate, but said: “While it is fantastic to see more performances around the country, it is notable that revenue and attendances haven’t also risen.

“It is too soon to say whether these figures are an anomaly, or whether they may signal a growing disparity between what theatre audiences are able to pay and the amount theatres now charge.

“If a trend does appear over the next few years, the industry will need to explore ways of working ever more creatively to retain and grow audiences in a landscape of reduced funding and tough operating costs.”

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