Andrew Lloyd Webber makes case for theatre investment

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At yesterday’s (Monday’s) Global Investment Summit at Hampton Court Palace, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak revealed £29.5bn (€34bn/$37bn) of new investment for different sectors from global investors. 

As part of the summit, theatre veteran and Society of London Theatre & UK Theatre member Andrew Lloyd Webber addressed attendees to make a case for investment in the UK theatre industry.

Lloyd Webber highlighted how the industry generates £2.39bn GVA (gross value added) and supports 205,000 workers. According to a statement from SOLT & UK Theatre, this total is made up of £1bn of direct turnover in the UK theatre sector, generating £1.3bn worth of turnover across the broader economy.

One example given by the theatre organisation to demonstrate theatre’s contribution to the global economy was the Lion King, which grossed $10.2bn – more than 10 times what the original 1994 film grossed in the cinema.

“It is great to see our valued member Andrew Lloyd Webber make such a powerful case for investment in our industry,” said Claire Walker, co-chief executive of SOLT & UK Theatre.

“Theatre audiences boost local economies up and down the country when visiting a performance. For every £1 spent on a theatre ticket, an additional spend of £1.40 is generated in local economies, adding up to £1.94bn per annum of extra value added to local economies by theatre audiences.”

Walker added: “SOLT & UK Theatre are calling on the UK Government to invest in productions by maintaining the higher rate of theatre tax relief. It is highly effective at generating growth up and down the country. We estimate, for example, that at least £163m was invested into theatrical productions in 2021-22 as a result of £38m of tax relief, a return of over four to one for the public purse.

“We are also calling on all politicians to support the Theatre for Every Child Campaign so that all children have the opportunity to see a professional theatre production at least once before they leave school.”