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It’s official: London is the theatre capital of the world

Posted at 3:45 pm, July 30, 2014 in Arts & Entertainment, Fun London
National Theatre © Philip Vile

Londoners have never needed convincing that our theatres are the best in the world. Because, well, they just are – the best subsidised theatre and new writing in the world, high quality West End shows for a range of prices, a healthy varied fringe with affordable tickets, plus a shed load of madcap productions staged on rooftops, in warehouses and other wacky venues. We’ve known we’re better than everyone else – but until today we haven’t had the hard facts to prove it.

The Society of London Theatre (SOLT) and the National Theatre this morning published the first ever report to contain a bucket load of uber-statistics about the extent of theatre’s reach in the capital. Speaking at today’s launch, National Theatre executive director Nick Starr said ‘we are throwing down the gauntlet to New York’ in the bid to discover whose theatre land is bigger.

The report found that in 2012/2013 over 22 million people went to the theatre in London. There are no comparable statistics from New York, but the panel believe this makes London ‘the biggest theatre city in the world’.

Anna Christie at the Donmar Warehouse starring Jude Law

Donmar Warehouse boss Josie Rourke applauded the report and said: ‘We need a statistical base to understand why [London theatre] is so muscular.’ The report’s author Alistair Smith, editor of The Stage, said: ‘This is the first time we’ve ever been able to quantify London theatre’, and the results look good.

Commenting on the report’s findings, Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: ‘London is without doubt the theatre capital of the world and theatre is hugely important to our economy. This timely report provides food for thought about what is needed to ensure we enjoy many more encores for years to come.’ Hear hear!

Here are a few juicy 2012/2013 theatre stats:

Theatre box office takings were £618.5 million, which is more than London’s cinema box office takings.

More than 22 million people attended London theatre performances.

There are 241 professional theatre spaces in London and more than 110,000 seats.

The largest theatre space regularly used for theatre is the London Coliseum which has 2,359 the smallest is the Lord Stanley pub theatre with 30 seats.

The average ticket price paid in London was £27.76 which was down on 2011/2012.

The average ticket price paid in the West End was £36.05, slightly up on the previous year.

SOLT estimates that around three in ten West End audience members are from overseas.

There are 135 not-for-profit theatres, 59 commercial and 47 fringe.

Out of all the London boroughs, Westminster and Camden account for more than half of all the theatre capacity in London.

Take a look at our most recent theatre reviews.

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