Spacey criticises West End prices

Kevin Spacey, Old Vic Spacey has accused West End theatre producers and directors of being "short-sighted"

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Old Vic artistic director Kevin Spacey has criticised West End producers as "short-sighted" when it comes to ticket prices for young people.

The Oscar-winning actor told The Stage magazine that London theatres were in danger of becoming an "exclusive club".

He said he was "embarrassed" that the average £50 cost of a ticket for a West End show was driving young people away.

"If we don't reach out to make theatre affordable to the young generations we will lose them all," he added.

"What happens when this generation that is currently going to the theatre passes onto the great theatre in the sky? Who is going to replace them?

"It is so short sighted not to think about your future audiences."

Ticket prices are set by producers and directors rather than theatre owners.

West End audiences by age

West End audiences by age (courtesy Society of London Theatre)

Source: Society of London Theatre / Ipsos MORI

President of the Society of London Theatres, Mark Rubinstein insists a lot is already being done: "Kids week, which will run throughout August this year and offers free tickets to children up to the age of 16."

He added: "Theatre is expensive because it is a unique experience, it is not a cheap thing to put on."

A survey from the Society of London Theatres found that only 16% of people who attended a show in 2008 were aged 16-24.

While 52% of those surveyed said the price of tickets stopped them from attending more often.

Spacey continued: "If we don't make theatre accessible then you force producers to always have to have big names in plays and you don't give young people an opportunity to experience something that, if they get it and if they love it, they will come again."

Actor Robert Powell, who is currently touring in a theatrical version of Doctor in the House, agreed with Spacey.

"This is one of the reasons why touring has become a very successful way of taking plays out and putting them in front of an audience," he told the BBC.

"Around the country, it's half the price of London, give or take.

"Let's say a London ticket is £50 and some of them are a lot more than that, around the country, £25 would be a lot (for the top seat).

"Kevin's right. I think it is an elite group of people. And once they go, we are not bringing up an audience of youngsters who appreciate theatre."

There are pricing structures in place for under 25's at certain theatres in London, including the Old Vic which has just announced a year-long subsidised ticket scheme.

100 tickets per performance will be available for £12.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    Yes, prices can be dear but you can often find good value if you look around, on the web or at the Leicester Sq Booth. Naturally this tends to be for shows that aren’t selling out, so generally straight plays rather than big musicals. Also, as someone said, compared to prices for big rock concerts the theatre isn’t that bad.

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    Recently received an e-mail promoting the Palace Theater Manchester,the event to be staged being The Lion King. Surprised to discover the top price being £75.00.Would have cost me some £230 to attend if I include the cost of travel and meals for two.While I would have liked to have gone,sorry you have priced yourself out of the market.

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    Its not Just the ticket prices, dont forget 0845/0844 call charges, restoration fees and booking charges. Top price for Sweeney Todd is £96.00, once you have added up all the charges its well over £100 before you go. I saw Sweeney at Chichester, my top price ticket, return train fare and my half of b&B cost for the night came to £10 less than just the west end ticket. .

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    Yes, West End prices are high, but not compared to Broadway. In January I paid $121 for a seat to see a play in New York. It lasted 95 minutes, no interval. More than $1 a minute!

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    To produce West End theatre is not cheap. It can cost a Producer around £100k per WEEK to put on a show in town. Pretty much all West End shows offer student discounts, senior concessions, etc so there are plenty of ways out there to get a cheaper ticket if you are young/old.


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