SOLT and UK Theatre call for reintroduction of 5% VAT ticket rate

Featured image credit: Society of London Theatre/UK Theatre

Society of London Theatre (SOLT) and UK Theatre have called on the UK Government to maintain the 50/45% rate of relief for theatres, reintroduce the 5% VAT ticket rate and include marketing spend in the qualifying costs of Theatre Tax Relief (TTR). 

The calls were made in the ‘Thriving Theatres’ plan, which was recently presented to the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Theatre.

SOLT and UK Theatre said that the UK Government should consider delaying the plan to reduce the rate of relief from 50/45% to 35/30% by three years, to enable growth in the sector.

The theatre organisations have also asked for marketing spend to be included in Theatre Tax Relief to maintain global competitiveness, and for the 5% VAT rate on tickets to live performances and cultural attractions to stimulate greater demand.

These main fiscal incentives interweave with the organisations’ wider priorities which include promoting a green and sustainable theatre economy, supporting the theatre workforce, growing theatre audiences to deliver regional growth and supporting a thriving touring sector.

“Commercial uncertainty caused by the stop-start nature of the pandemic and rising inflation have hampered the recovery of this £2.4bn (€2.7bn/$2.9bn) sector, which supports 205,000 jobs around the country,” said Claire Walker, co-chief executive of Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre (pictured left).

“Maintaining the higher rate of TTR, and allowing the inclusion of marketing spend, would drive economic, cultural and social growth in communities around the UK. Against a challenging economic backdrop, if the Chancellor were to commit to this hugely positive step of maintaining the higher rate of relief, theatre organisations will be empowered to create new productions for 2023 and beyond, in turn creating jobs, increasing foreign investment, stimulating further economic activity, and putting tax returns back into the exchequer. In light of the cost-of-living crisis, reducing VAT can ensure that theatres can help keep ticket prices down despite rising costs.”

She added: “The theatre sector is brimming full of creative ideas for new productions that will entertain, challenge and inspire audiences around the UK. The Chancellor has the opportunity to create the conditions that give theatre organisations the confidence and investment to create and innovate, enabling the sector to make a greater contribution to getting the UK back to growth as well as providing more wonderful experiences for millions.”

Giles Watling MP, Chair of the APPG for Theatre (pictured right), said: “I’m delighted that we’ve been able to restart the APPG for Theatre with the Thriving Theatres Plan: The plan is a very helpful blueprint for theatres in the UK, and our international partners, to raise the profile and impact of theatre with Governments both here and abroad. I, and parliamentary colleagues on the APPG, look forward to working with the Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre to deliver on their ambitions, specifically securing the higher rate of Theatre Tax Relief.”

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