London West End box office returns were down 6% in the first quarter of 2011, according to figures released by SOLT, the Society of London Theatre.
From January 1 to March 31, box office revenue dropped by 6%, while attendances were down by 10%, compared to the same period last year.
Interviewed by The Stage newspaper, Society of London Theatre chief executive Julian Bird said; “I’m not worried about it at the moment - over the first half of the year it will be a bit more of a [fair] test because we will begin to see whether the change in consumer spending and tax rates really make a difference or not.”
Bird added: “On attendance, we were just over 10% down but that reflects the fact that we had some dark theatres and Easter wasn’t in Q1, as it was last year. In terms of revenue, we’re 6% down. There is a cause for optimism, with Easter falling into the first bit of Q2, and we know there was a strong Easter.
“It is a testing time for people but there are some very strongly performing shows across the West End and across all genres, with some very exciting shows about to open - the next few weeks have an absolute slew of new openings.”
One new show hoping to bring audiences back to the West End is Ghost the Musical at the Piccadilly Theatre which is already set to be a big hit.