SOLT Box Office data for 2022 makes for interesting reading

Ticket prices remain flat whilst costs rise is the headline message from the release of 2022 box office figures for SOLT’s London commercial and subsidised theatre sector members.

This is the first full set of annual figures published since 2019, as the onset of the pandemic and subsequent shutdowns disrupted data reporting in 2020 and 2021.

2022 has been widely recognised as a financially challenging year for businesses across the UK, and the theatre industry has been no exception.

Despite rising costs – not least significant increases in energy bills – producers and theatres have worked to ensure that productions remain accessible to as many people as possible. The average nominal ticket price has only risen by £2.21 since 2019, with the average price actually falling in real terms when adjusted for inflation from £52.17 in 2019 to £48.11 in 2022.

The reopening of venues closed for restoration and refurbishment in 2019, as well as fewer ‘dark’ weeks in venues contributed to a 7.9% increase in total capacity (available seats) compared to 2019, with the number of overall individual performances increasing by 4.7%. A combination of these factors contributed to a 7.1% increase in attendance in 2022.

This increased attendance has seen nominal revenue increase by 11.6% to £892,896,521 in 2022. However, adjusted for inflation since 2019, real revenue has fallen by 1.1%.

Although there has been a slight, yet encouraging increase of attendance in the West End, UK-wide theatre audience levels have not fully recovered since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For more information, visit SOLT’s website here

Greenwich Theatre’s FREE Workshop for young budding theatre-makers!

Here’s a great opportunity for young aspiring theatre-makers to learn and get some good advice, as well as a bit of experience along the way!

On Friday 17 February, Greenwich theatre is offering 9- 13 year olds this Free workshop, from 10am to 3pm.

Join the acclaimed CultureClash Theatre for a unique insight into the creation of a show!

Learn some of the skills that have led the company to secure a string of five-star reviews – from improvisation and storytelling to reimagining fairytales and creating all-new characters.

Participants can build their confidence and learn a host of important theatrical skills in this free and exclusive one-day workshop.

To sign up, visit the Greenwich Theatre site here. But hurry, before it sells out!

SAVE Britain’s Heritage annual lecture focuses on demolition of historic buildings only as last resort

SAVE Britain’s Heritage’s 2023 annual lecture will be held at the Royal Academy of Arts in London -and online- on 7th March, in a hybrid event that you can join wherever you are.

Net zero and sustainability specialist Simon Sturgis will use the occasion to call for a revolution in architecture in response to the climate emergency. He will make the compelling case that one of our most effective responses to the crisis is to make demolition of buildings the last resort – not the first.

UNRESTRICTED THEATRE SAYS: This is particularly pertinent to the demolition by stealth that we are currently seeing in historic theatres and cinema buildings across the UK which occupy valuable sites that developers are slavering to get delisted and demolished. There are a number of high-profile sites worth supporting with your interest, including Dudley Hippodrome, the last purpose-built professional theatre in its area which has been actively targeted by the visionless local council; and the State Grays cinema, bought by Wetherspoons and left to rot with a gaping hole in the roof to hasten its decline. We must all work to ensure that greedy developers don’t profit from the loss of our historic built environment by unscrupulous owners who actively work to destroy assets of local community value.

“Architecture is facing its biggest change since the First World War,” Sturgis will say. “Architectural thought has been effectively dormant for the last 90 years and now needs a thought revolution to help solve the climate crisis.”

Simon Sturgis is one of the country’s leading experts in the emerging field of embodied carbon in the built environment. He is managing partner of the consultancy Targeting Zero and an advisor to government, MPs the EU and industry.

Simon was SAVE’s chief sustainability witness at the public inquiry in October last year where we highlighted the massive carbon waste of Marks and Spencer’s plans to demolish their flagship building at Marble Arch.

SAVE’s Marks and Spencer campaign attracted widespread press and public interest because of three key ingredients: a well-loved heritage landmark on Oxford Street; a household name; and the potentially far-reaching consequences this case could have for construction and development.

It is the first time carbon and heritage have both been at the heart of a public inquiry in the UK. With the Secretary of State’s decision expected by early May, it is being widely viewed as a landmark case.

The built environment is responsible for about 40% of global carbon emissions – more than any other sector – which means cutting development’s emissions would have a disproportionately positive impact on our carbon footprint.

This presents us with an urgent obligation to change the way we do development, Simon will argue. Even the “greenest” new-build proposal – which just five years ago would have been welcome – is now arguably an obstacle to the UK’s progress towards its legally binding commitment to be net zero by 2050.

As a result, the retrofit and reuse of existing buildings must become the starting point of any development brief. As architect Carl Elefante’s mantra has it, “the greenest building is the one that already exists”.

The SAVE annual lecture, Architecture and Climate Crisis: How the past can save the future will be held on 7th March in the stunning David Chipperfield-designed Benjamin West Lecture Theatre at the Royal Academy’s Burlington Gardens building – itself a great example of a retrofit which gave a historic building a viable new future.

It is a hybrid event and tickets to watch online are also available.

Find more information, and book tickets (from £5), here

Interested in musicals? This may be for you!

On 27 February at 7.30pm, The Society for Theatre Research is giving another engaging free lecture, both in-person and online, which will interest those who love the magic of musicals.

Join in person at St Annes, 55 Dean Street, London, UK or online at the link below. Tickets are free but all places must be booked in advance here.

The Making of a Monster: an Anatomy of Musical Flops is presented by Christopher Howell

West End Wonder or Flop? Even when blessed with a timely topic, willing investors, a team of top creatives and popular appeal, a musical tipped to be a hit can flounder. Others, with the odds seemingly stacked against them, nonetheless thrive. Why do some musicals flourish whilst others fail to. captivate an audience? Christopher Howell explores this vexed question, and takes a candid look behind the scenes of Carrie, Les Misérables and other musicals.

The presenter, actor and director Christopher Howell has worked extensively on the West End as well as in film and television. This presentation is based upon his current research on West End and Broadway musical theatre histories.

Society for Theatre Research opens 2023 Grants applications!

Calling all researchers! Is there an element within your research topics that deals with an aspect of the British theatre which would make it eligible for a STR grant? It’s worth taking a look at their website to find out!

Topics they can consider include buildings, people, historical or contemporary concerns, theories and practices, and all kinds of performance arts, as long as there is a connection with theatre in Britain or British theatre people.

STR says “We invite all engaged in theatre research to apply – for example you may be an early career academic needing help with a particular piece of research, or an independent scholar digging up traces of local theatre or performers, in which case the Research Grants would be suitable for you, or a theatre practitioner engaged in practical research on an aspect of performance practice, in which case you might apply for one of our Practitioner Grants.”

Whichever of the two distinct types of grants might apply to your project, visit their website here for more details – and good luck!