Money is an issue that dominates discussions surrounding arts, particularly the performance industry – whether that be the price of training, necessities, or the argument for wages. But now the new dilemma is the price of tickets for West End shows after it was announced that ticket prices have broken the £200 barrier for the first time in history.
This issue was bought to the forefront by Juliet Stevenson, an actress who refused to see her friend Dame Harriet Walker in Arthur Miller’s The Death of Salesman because she could not afford to pay the £285 for her and her two children to see the show. Stevenson isn’t alone as more and more award winning artists are condemning the ever-growing prices.
Ticket prices have broken the £200 barrier for the first time in history
Being a self-renowned theatre geek, it always concerned me that no one in my family shared my wish to see everything in the West End. But after news that ticket prices have more than doubled since 2012 (The Book of Mormon’s highest ticket price going from less than £80 per ticket to a whopping £202.25), I don’t blame them for their diversion from this commercialism.
The West End is a commercial business so it can charge whatever it likes, but this is cause for concern as their ticket prices do not reflect affordability. In fact, it is segregating audiences to the point that trips to the theatre are going to be a high-class activity once again.
How on earth can younger children be educated and influenced by the theatre when it is far easier to pay £20 to go to the cinema instead?
Stevenson further summarises the reason behind the inflation of pricings, “I suppose as long as there are people who will pay those prices it will go on, but it is excluding a huge, huge majority of people”.
However, despite their being an almost 30% increase in ticket prices, The Telegraph reported the cheaper tickets are gradually (I use that word finely) becoming cheaper, causing the average paid ticket price for last year being £42 – somehow sounding far more reasonable. Although this is because it is the cheaper tickets that people are gunning for; the restricted seats are the fastest selling because they are more affordable, but the theatre experience is then hindered because of the bad seating.
If only the West End could follow their lead and stop restricting their audience to tourists and the rich
Many artists are fighting for the arts to remain part of the school curriculum, but with tickets prices for theatre being absurdly overpriced, how on earth can younger children be educated and influenced by the theatre when it is far easier to pay £20 to go to the cinema instead? Furthermore, government funding is becoming an issue, but even when the RSC is charging extortionate prices for their shows, why should a commercially successful industry have additional funding when it is still prohibiting a large mass of audience just for profit. Is this hindering the arts even more?
It is because of this issue that praise is being given to local theatres and The National theatre for their more affordable prices. If only the West End could follow their lead and stop restricting their audience to tourists and the rich.
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Picture sourced from Flickr via Bahman Farzad