In figures released today, the West End’s trade body The Society of London Theatre has announced record figures for 2009. London’s West End theatres attracted over 14 million people and generating over half a billion pounds in revenue.
Both the audience attendance and box office revenues set new records, with attendances up by 5.5% on 2008 and revenues totalling £504,765,690 – a 7.6% increase.
Plays are continuing to do good busines in London, showing an impressive increase in attendance of 26% year-on-year at 3,637,714. Plays that did particularly well include Royal Court productions Enron and Jerusalem, both of which are transferring into the West End, and Waiting for Godot starring Ian McKellen at the Haymarket Theatre Royal.
Musicals are also bringing in more customers with high-profile openings including Cameron Mackintosh’s production of Oliver! at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, and a big box-office advance giving Legally Blonde a good start at the Savoy Theatre.
2009 was the seventh consecutive year that attendance and revenues have increased, highlighting how theatre in London has managed to beat the recession.
Commenting on the figures, Nica Burns, President of the Society of London Theatre, said: “Britain’s artistic community continues to create exceptional work. The extraordinary quality and breadth of productions available nightly in London explains these record figures in such a difficult year economically. Whilst our musicals continue to flourish, 2009 was an outstanding year for plays – proving that audiences respond to challenge and stimulation as well as toe-tapping entertainment. Excellence is everything – look no further than London’s theatre which adds a great deal more to London’s revenue than just the ticket sales.”