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Lords request investigation into West End pricing

Members of the UK’s House of Lords have urged the government to investigate the rising prices of West End theatre tickets.

The debate kicked off last week after it was revealed that the highest priced seats had increased by almost a fifth between 2017 and 2018, according to The Stage’s latest ticketing survey.

Liberal Democrat Patrick Boyle brought the issue up, asking the government to look into the increasing prices of London theatre tickets and how this affects theatregoers.

He said, according to The Stage: “The main beneficiaries of these higher prices are not so much the producers of the plays and musicals, but rather those who control access to theatres: the theatre owners, the ticket sellers and the discredited secondary ticket market.

“London theatres are already becoming too expensive for many regular theatregoers and I hope the government will take this issue very seriously. As we all know, one of the many reasons that people come to London is its theatres, but they are gradually becoming too expensive for anyone to be able to attend major plays.”

The Stage found the top priced tickets in the West End have skyrocketed by more than 60 per cent since 2012, with the average top-end seat costing fans £117.52 (€136.95/$153.61).

The highest priced shows include Hamilton with the most expensive tickets at £250, as well as Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which charges £175 per part for the two-part play.

According to The Stage, the parliamentary under-secretary of state for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Thomas Ashton, states that there should be an acknowledgement to those already offering cheaper seats.

He also vowed to advocate “as hard as we can for the arts” in the upcoming spending review, after Liberal Democrat peer Jane Bonham Carter called for more arts funding outside London to support the regional subsidised sector.

Former National Theatre executive director Genista McIntosh, who is a Labour peer, added: “I also ask him (Ashton) to confirm that putting on a live performance of any kind, particularly at scale, is extremely expensive and very difficult to achieve, requiring a great variety of skills and talents. The more we support it, the more likely we are to find homes for all our young people who might be looking to those industries for jobs in the future.”

Image: Steve Collis