2011 Another Bumper Year – But What of 2012?


The stats are in from the Society of London Theatre and 2011 was another success for the West End. The big question is how do you measure success?

Yes, the box office takings were up by 3% BUT attendance was down by 1.7%. I think we need to see if that downward trend in attendance continues, which as ticket prices soar I think will continue. Please don’t get me wrong I’m VERY pleased that the West End is bucking the trend and doing so well in the current climate. It’s also always helpful to remind the Treasury that the West End’s VAT contribution was nearly £90 Million!

One encouraging sign is that attendance at plays is up by 2%. Musical attendance is down again for the second year in a row. That may change this year with Matilda and the arrival of Top Hat and Singin in the Rain. However the swathe of jukebox musicals I think is starting to wear a bit thin with audiences. The long runners of Les Mis, Phantom, Lion King etc. seem to be doing as well as ever. Play’s do seem to be becoming more popular, just this last week I’ve had two friends who are not regular theatre goers ask me about plays to go to, specifying they want to see plays not musicals.

A Blessing or a Curse to the West End in 2012?

The confusing thing for me is the different views I keep hearing with regards the Olympics and their impact on the West End this summer. Some are saying theatres will close, advance ticket sales are awful and others that it’ll be a huge boost for sales. Who’s to believe?? I think we’ll just have to see what actually happens. I’m not trying to be a naysayer but I don’t think the SOLT figures this time next year will be so rosy.


5 thoughts on “2011 Another Bumper Year – But What of 2012?

  1. I rarely venture into the West End, but I plan not to visit any theatre in London during the Olympics because travel will be even more of a nightmare than it already is.

    I can see the argument that if people are in London for the games during the day, they’ll be looking for entertainment for the evening, so might head to the more popular shows, but I think in general anyone who doesn’t need to be in London during that period will be staying well clear.

  2. I think with the games being so far out of central London, people won’t just decide to come into London to see a show. Especially as I can’t see how our transport system will cope. I look forward to seeing how the whole thing goes. I’ve made contingency plans to work from home during the games though 🙂

  3. I see most of my theatre in the summer holidays but will not be doing so this year! The thought of the travel issues and all that goes with it puts me right off.

  4. Some of them are in the centre, aren’t they? I thought they were having archery at Lord’s and beach volleyball just outside the Houses of Parliament? (If you think that’s indicative of me taking a keen interest – no – I follow cricket and remember something on the news about a volleyball rehearsal taking place when there was a cobra meeting). Overseas visitors are bound to want to take in the sights while they’re over here. As for theatre, who knows?

  5. You’re right a couple of events are in central London. The vast majority are not though.

    I too will be avoiding traveling into London Debbie. However the West End doesn’t seem to care about regular theatre goers anymore which I think is a shame and also very short sighted.

    Part of me hopes the theatres have to offer bargain rates and that might persuade me to go up into town and see something. However so many shows are taking a break (such as The Ladykillers) that I’m not sure what’ll be on that I’ll want to see.

    An interesting summer ahead.

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