CriticalDance Forum

Crisis in London's Theatreland
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Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Fri Jun 22, 2001 2:57 am ]
Post subject:  Crisis in London's Theatreland

Cash crisis hits theatreland

London's West End has been plunged into crisis with a dramatic drop in box office takings causing a series of closures and threatening the survival of a number of big shows.

by Patrick Sawer in The Evening Standard

The state of the economy is having a potentially devastating effect. The pound remains relatively high against other currencies, especially the dollar and the mark, and this makes London very expensive for visitors.

The latest shows at risk are Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Ben Elton's The Beautiful Game, Cameron Mackintosh's production Witches of Eastwick and the Anglo-French musical Notre Dame de Paris, all rumoured to be on the verge of closing early.

It has been noticeable this year that it has been difficult to get bums on seats for dance, with the exception of the Royal Ballet, who have been close to capacity for most performances. The Bolshoi struggled to get 1000 fans in a theatre taking over 2000. Birmingham Royal Ballet filled less than half of the 1500 seater Sadler's Wells on some of the nights of 'Arthur'. Now even the mighty Kirov are struggling to fill some performances, although the night I saw 'Manon' had few empty seats.

This article shows that this problem goes further than dance. Is everyone watching 'Big Brother'?

<small>[ 18 February 2005, 09:56 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>

Author:  Red Shoes [ Fri Jun 22, 2001 9:30 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Crisis in London's Theatreland

More than likely, Stuart.<P>Culture seems to be a dirty word among the great unwashed British public these days, does it not?<BR>As you say, they may well all have been at home watching that excuse for a TV programme called Big Brother, which I regret to say was a huge success here also, amongst the other Italian TV dross.<P>Apparently the public wants and enjoys...let me think of a word I can use here...<P>Sorry, didn't come to me.<P>

Author:  Basheva [ Fri Jun 22, 2001 10:27 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Crisis in London's Theatreland

I cannot speak to what is happening in London/UK - but here in California, I think that recession is imminent. Housing is very expensive, as is power (electricity/natural gas etc.) The stock market is not very healthy. I really don't know how the young people make it, I really don't.<P>I think also that people have so many choices - television, tapes, movies, and so on. And also the audience in any time or clime for theater - higher end theater especially, has never been large. And in iffy economic times, it is the first to be cut. That includes dance classes as well.

Author:  Emma Pegler [ Sat Jun 23, 2001 2:00 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Crisis in London's Theatreland

There were a thousand tickets left, so I am told, last Sunday for the Kirov's Jewels. However, we must remember that advertising could be better? I have said this before, but when Houston Ballet was here, there was a distinctive poster all over London and all seats looked taken in Sadler's Wells. When Dutch National Ballet was here I saw nothing and the auditorium was pretty empty.

Author:  Basheva [ Sun Jun 24, 2001 5:59 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Crisis in London's Theatreland

From the Philadelphia Inquirer - another view:<P><B>What slowdown? Ticket sales are up</B><P><BR> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>The economy may be in the midst of a downturn, but don't expect to find any evidence for it in the ticket sales of area theaters, their primary source of revenue. Not too many businesses would refer to last year as successful, but a survey of area theater managers didn't turn up any who did not have a positive opinion of the concluding season.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><A HREF="" TARGET=_blank><B>MORE...</B></A><P><BR>(if anyone thinks this should have gone into Managing Dance - please feel free to move it) (I was having an indecisive morning)<P><p>[This message has been edited by Basheva (edited June 24, 2001).]

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Wed Jan 08, 2003 9:54 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Crisis in London's Theatreland

Welcome to the vile West End
London's theatreland is in trouble. As visitors brave gridlocked traffic and unreliable trains to find dirty streets haunted by drug dealers and beggars, Britain risks losing a priceless asset, says Charles Spencer for The Daily Telegraph

A couple of weeks before Christmas I suggested to my dear old mum that she and my father should go to see the brilliant Morecambe and Wise tribute show, The Play What I Wrote, before it ended its run at Wyndhams. Mum answered with a firm "No".

Dirty and yob-ridden: London's West End
"I'm not going to the West End any more. It's so much trouble and it's disgusting when you get there," she said.

I was initially shocked. My parents may be in their seventies but they are far from being decrepit, easily-cowed old crumblies, and they are enthusiastic theatregoers, regularly attending the Yvonne Arnaud in Guildford and the New Victoria in Woking.

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<small>[ 08 January 2003, 10:55 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>

Author:  Joanne [ Wed Jan 08, 2003 4:13 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Crisis in London's Theatreland

It is a very sad situation but i know many people who feel the same. And with so many of the big west end productions touring I don't blame people for wanting to attend their local theatres, where they can park easily and relatively cheaply comparitive to London. I suspect the congestion charge will not help and currently the weather cannot be doing much for passing trade.

Author:  Joanne [ Sun Jan 12, 2003 3:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Crisis in London's Theatreland

Similar article from The Sunday Times.

Broadway is buzzing, says Matt Wolf, but can anyone fix the West End?

Londoners in search of that old-fashioned thrill they once got from the West End should cross the Atlantic and head for Manhattan’s Times Square area at 7.45pm (1.45pm on matinee days). There, sure to catch an observer in the crush, can be found the nightly throng of Broadway theatregoers dashing to one or another of the 30-odd playhouses that are doing their bit to heighten the excitement. On London’s Shaftesbury Avenue of late, says the impresario Bill Kenwright, who has been doing more than his share to keep the street alive with shows such as The Constant Wife, Sleuth and the Royal Shakespeare Company’s “Jacobethan” season, “You could shoot a moose” most nights. If, that is, one isn’t shot at first — not so much by guns (though that may come), but by the deterioration of a desirable area into a feeding ground for junkies, lager louts, minicab touts and harassed travellers negotiating overpriced car parks and the intermittently strike-plagued Tube.


Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sun Jan 12, 2003 5:24 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Crisis in London's Theatreland

Sir Cameron plans £7m theatre rescue
from the BBC website

West End impresario Sir Cameron Mackintosh has pledged £7m to improve the look of his theatres.
Sir Cameron, who owns seven theatres in the heart of London, will initially restore the Prince of Wales theatre.

His donation follows criticisms in recent interviews from Howard Panter, the head of the Ambassador Theatre Group, about the state of cleanliness in the West End.

Les Miserables is one of Sir Cameron's productions
Although Sir Cameron has made the same point himself in the past, he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that he thought the "hassle" of travelling in the West End was a greater deterrent for visitors.

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Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Thu Jan 16, 2003 4:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Crisis in London's Theatreland

Theatres welcome London ticket offer
Theatres across London are taking part in the scheme. By Ian Youngs for
BBC News Online

Theatres have largely welcomed a £350,000 scheme to provide cut-price tickets at their venues, but they said it will not solve all of their financial problems.
Introduced by London Mayor Ken Livingstone, Get Into London Theatre is aimed at wooing young people into the West End and other venues such as the Hackney Empire.

Just one third of the 12 million people who pay to see plays, musicals, dance and operas in London's theatreland actually live in London.

The tickets, which can cost up to £40, are being offered at reduced prices of £10, £15 and £20 between 15 January and 29 March.

The offer is a joint scheme with the Society of London Theatre, and includes small independent theatres as well as larger ones from the West End.

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Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sun Feb 09, 2003 7:32 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Crisis in London's Theatreland

A series of articles in the Observer about enjoying the Arts on a tight budget. The front page banner for this story is "Darcey Bussell for a fiver?" I love it when dance is used as a symbol for the Arts in general.

Arts on the cheap
As a nation, we spend a fortune on shows and concerts - and often grumble about the cost. But are prices reasonable or a rip-off? And will lowering them really attract younger audiences? Liz Hoggard reports for The Observer.

We spend over £3 billion a year on culture. According to the financial services group Egg, the amount spent by UK adults on going to the theatre, cinema, concert or art gallery is more than 15 times that spent on tickets to Premiership football matches in a season (classical musical ticket sales at £359 million a year account for almost twice the revenue of Premiership tickets).
Yet how many of us are getting our money's worth? Faced by a cramped venue with seats designed for minute bottoms and non-existent legroom, are we being ripped off? More importantly, when did you last book tickets for a cultural event and think, 'Hmm, that's exceptionally reasonable'?

Even the most devoted fan might wonder why we are paying £40 a head for a two-hander like David Hare's The Breath of Life (however illustrious the Dames Judi and Maggie).

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£25 challenge in London
How much culture can £25 buy? Dee O'Connell investigates for The Observer

Manon, Royal Opera House

I may be about to get a nosebleed. I'm sitting very, very high up in the Royal Opera House in a £6 'restricted view' seat. Incredibly, when I asked for the cheapest tickets, I was offered £3 'listening seats'. According to the lady on the booking line, 'Some people will do anything just to be there.' Evidently.

Even from our dizzying height, though, the view isn't at all bad. We can see four-fifths of the stage, and in enough detail to be able to make out the xylophone of Darcey Bussell's chest. I'm still flush with the success of my upgrade at the Old Vic, however, and my companions, Amy, an Armani-clad lawyer, and Susan, a film executive, are used to better things. We have our eye on an empty box.

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This is a good idea, but they seem to have stopped at ballet and the best deals in London are with modern dance where you can see some of the best performers in the country for £15 and sometimes as lttle as £5:

The best cheap deals
From The Observer

Opera, concerts and ballet

Royal Opera House/Royal Ballet Standbys half-price, £15 concessions, four hours before curtain-up
Tickets £2-£160.

English National Opera £3 on-the-day seats in balcony weekdays and Saturday matinees from 10am/12 noon
Standby tickets (£12.50 students, £18 concessions) three hours before performance.

Guildhall School of Music and Drama All tickets usually under £25, concessions £15.

Royal Festival Hall Free music in main foyer Lunchtime recitals around £7 Concerts between £6 and £37
Standbys (concessions only) on sale two hours before show.

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Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Fri Feb 28, 2003 2:37 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Crisis in London's Theatreland

Mayor centres on safer West End
by Richard Foster for The Stage

Measures to tackle the safety fears of London theatregoers were announced this week by Ken Livingstone, including 500 community support officers to provide visible policing around the West End.

The Mayor of London announced the proposals to focus on policing, transport and tourism on the back of the success of the Get Into London Theatre discount ticket campaign. Of the 500 community support officers around London, 200 will exclusively work out of Westminster.

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Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Wed Mar 26, 2003 12:59 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Crisis in London's Theatreland

The death of the West End
In 1963 there was O'Toole and Olivier. And today? Sing-A-Long-A Abba. Michael Billington for The Guardian sifts through 50 years of listings and charts its decline

A colleague, driven to retching despair by Mum's the Word, recently suggested that the West End was at its lowest ebb in decades. Surely some exaggeration. Isn't our fabled Shaftesbury Avenue a mecca for the Hollywood glitterati and entertainment-hungry visitors? Actually, no. After comparing what is on offer today with the same week over the past four decades, I have come to the melancholy conclusion that the West End is dwindling into neon-lit irrelevance.
The irony is that it is probably better run than at any time in recent memory.

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Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Fri Apr 04, 2003 11:01 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Crisis in London's Theatreland

Livingstone ticket scheme 'a failure'
by Jeremy Austin for The Stage

London mayor Ken Livingstone's ?350,000 theatre promotion failed to attract first-time theatregoers, with regular audiences taking up the discounted ticket offer instead, a report by the London Assembly has found.

Although aimed at encouraging new audiences to the West End, on average only 17 tickets in every 1,000 purchased for the Get Into Theatre promotion were bought by people attending the theatre for the first time, according to research. Four out of five were bought by white people and only 1.6% by people from the black community, while Asian and Chinese people accounted for 6.6% and 4.5% of sales respectively.

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Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sat Apr 05, 2003 12:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Crisis in London's Theatreland

Livingstone's bid to lure theatre-goers is 'Pounds 350,000 failure'
By Louise Jury for The independent

An initiative by Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London, to attract first-time theatre-goers to the West End has been a failure, the London Assembly's culture committee said yesterday. The ?350,000 promotion was aimed at encouraging new and more diverse audiences but only 17 tickets of every 1,000 were bought by people attending theatre for the first time.

Nearly half the tickets were bought by people who already visit the theatre at least once a month, the committee said in a 38-page report assessing the Mayor's culture strategy.

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