The entertainment industry, like the travel business, seems to hold its own in dark economic times. In the 1920s and ‘30s, Hollywood boomed as people flocked to their local cinemas to seek a little escapism.
And figures just out reveal that the London West End theatre enjoyed a record year in 2008, with receipts of £481 million ($688 million). There was a wobble in the autumn, but a strong Christmas.
In New York, Broadway’s 2008 figures amounted to nearly $1 billion (£690 million) – about the same as the previous year, although like London, it enjoyed a strong Christmas and New Year.
The President of the Society of London Theatre, Nica Burns, said that, faced with harder decisions over how to spend more limited cash, people were enjoying themselves in theatres rather than ‘hiding under the duvet.’
New London shows including Zorro, Hairspray and High School Musical helped to boost figures, along with a strong drama season with productions of Twelfth Night and Rain Man. The new production of Oliver took record box office advances. On Broadway, more than 20 new shows are lined up to open before spring.
“These are worrying times for all of us, but if you are on a tight budget you can shop around and find a ticket that’s affordable,” said Ms Burns.
by Andy Moreton