2009 was a thermometer-bursting year for West End theater.
Despite the world economic crisis, the West End set a record with a yearly gross of £504,765,690 or approximately $786,134,270, which is a 7.6% increase (!) from the previous year.
But that’s not what’s got me curious/burning with envy.
Even us tea partiers can keep the grosses going up year after year, thanks to our yearly price increase.
What’s remarkable about the London figures is that they’ve also managed to increase their attendance at the same time, by a whopping 5.5%, to a 2009 total of 14,257,922 theatergoers.
And this was all in the midst of a monumental recession!
Huh. An increase in gross and an increase in attendance. Isn’t that exactly what’s supposed to happen?
But it’s not happening here in the colonies. We’re on track to see a drop in attendance for the third season in a row, despite slight increases in our grosses.
What is London doing right?
Is it the half price booths on every block? Is it because they let you eat and drink in the theatres? Is it because Hollywood stars seem even more willing to do West End productions than Broadway productions?
Is it because they have a Queen and Princes and say things like “bollocks”?
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. Excellence is everything – look no further than London’s theatre which adds a great deal more to London’s revenue than just the ticket price.
Well said. This is a product-driven industry on both sides of the ocean. My only quibble is that I’d trade the word “excellence” with the phrase, “The Rumpelstiltskin Factor.” When people are willing to give their first born away to see a show (whether or not it’s any “good”) that’s when numbers are going to increase.
If we had 12 Steady Rain-like shows with 12 Hugh Jackmans, our mercury would be rising, too. 12 Wickeds, 12 Will Ferrell’s and so on and so forth.
Still, it can’t just be that. These increases suggest a different sort of energy occurring in the West End than is occurring here. And I’m not quite sure what it is.
But I tell you this . . . I’d almost be willing to give them back one of the colonies in exchange for the secret.