Over 20 Million People Attended London Theatre in 2012-13; Other Stats Announced

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30 Jul 2014

In 2012-13 more than 22 million people attended London theatre performances, according to the London Theatre Report, the first-ever comprehensive study across all professional sectors of London theatre activity from West End to fringe that has calculated the gross box office and employment for the year.

That statistic makes London the biggest theatre city in the world, according to the report's author, Alistair Smith.

The report, commissioned by the Society of London Theatre and the National Theatre, reveals that London has 241 professional theatres with an overall seating capacity of more than 110,000. The smallest theatre included is the 30-seater Lord Stanley pub; the largest, the 3,600 seater Hammersmith Apollo. The majority are located in inner London, and specifically within the boroughs of Westminster and Camden, with some 42,500 seats between them. The fringe only accounts for 3.6 percent of the overall capacity. Box-office receipts across 2012-13 are calculated to have been £618.5 million - more than was taken by London cinemas.

At any one time, London theatres engage more than 3,000 performers, and 6,500 full time non-performing staff. However, only one in five actors on the fringe are being paid national minimum wage or above.

According to Alistair Smith, "We want to present a complete picture of the size and shape of London theatre, or certainly a picture that is more complete than anything that has gone before.... We knew London theatre was big. This report quantifies how big: 241 theatres with more than 110,000 seats. We knew lots of people went to the theatre in London every year, this report tells us how many (more than 22 million in 2012/13) and where those audiences are focussed. We knew London theatre was a big employer, this report gives us a reliable estimate of how many people are employed at any one time. We knew London theatre took millions at the box office. This report tells us how many millions: £600 million."



Smith was supported in his research by an expert panel that included Nick Starr, currently the National Theatre's executive director who also chaired the group; Julian Bird, chief executive of SOLT and UK Theatre; Mark Rubinstein, independent producer and SOLT vice president; Kate Horton, independent producer and former deputy executive director of the National Theatre; Matthew Byam Shaw, independent producer; and David Bronwlee, UK Theatre executive director.