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
    +1

    Comment number 79.

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

    Really? That's certainly not true of the tours I've seen in Bristol. Musicals touring here seem to be priced almost the same; premium stall seats around £75, general stalls £55, etc...

    That makes for quite an investment when you go to the theatre. No wonder people don't want to take a chance on lesser-known productions.

  • rate this
    +1

    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
    +1

    Comment number 77.

    Ticket prices could be reduced by holding 'Theatre in the Park' events in London's open spaces. One popular venue could be Clapham Common.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 76.

    For £74 each at Bearded Theory festival , we get entertained with a wide selection of music and other arts for Friday, Saturday and Sunday, complete with camping. Something like 300 performances to choose from. Why bother going to London?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 75.

    At least the parking isn't to pricey at the weekend!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 74.

    "58.
    matt mackenzie

    love a bit of kevin spacey, but then again he flys business class"

    That's an advert - it's not real!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 73.

    It's not just high-end shows. There are NO reductions in price to watch our town's Philharmonic play. You pay the same high price regardless of age or background. This amazes me when it's less than 50% attended. A concession to under 16s or low incomes might get more interested, but the short-sighted fools (and I'm being polite!) who run it don't see it this way.

  • rate this
    0

    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
    0

    Comment number 71.

    Meanwhile those of us in the regions........

  • rate this
    +1

    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
    0

    Comment number 69.

    I'm all for supporting my local theatre these days. Although working and earning reasonable money I'm fed up with the high prices to see a show in London with the added costs of travelling and I'm still relatively young. I agree with Spacey prices are too high and it is sad that if you are young and full of ambition with interest in the theatre world not to be part of it because of expense.

  • rate this
    -1

    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
    -1

    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.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 66.

    I wouldn't spend that much to go and see some god awful musical, I wouldn't pay a discounted price either to be fair as I despise musicals and am not a big theatre fan but the prices are unfair on those folk who are. It's the same scenario for people who are theatre fans as it is for fans of bands being ripped off terribly for gigs at the O2 and other venues, all a massive con.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 65.

    Looking at the pie chart it strikes me that the age distribution of theatregoers is fairly evenly distributed - a range of 16%-21% for theatregoers between 16 and 64 isn't too bad. The figure that stands out is the 10% for those aged 65 and over. Why aren't theatres expressing concern about this?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 64.

    I agree entirely with Mr Spacey. I got the theatre bug late (in my 30s) but since then I have been hooked (now in my 60s). The theatre is not of course just the big West End musicals and big name plays, as great as they are. We should widen the experience to include the sort of productions that Kevin Spacey puts on and opera and ballet. But cost keeps people away. And not just young people.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 63.

    Taking aside the outrageous ticket prices for a family to attend, the costs of getting to London and staying in a hotel are prohibitive.

    The pricing seems to be more about deterring attendance rather than encouraging it, and you would never 'take a risk' with a show and see something you aren't familiar with.

    Its a non starter.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 62.

    Going to the theatre is very expensive, even in the 'sticks'. I've paid £110 for two tickets to see 'Phantom' at the Palace Theatre, Manchester, but I do appreciate the cost of staging such productions. My complaint is with the ticket vendors; the ticket cost increases significantly when you add the various surcharges added by the vendors and these charges are added for each ticket! Robbery!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 61.

    I love the theatre, but the costs in Scotland are beyond family budget, I'd have to get a bank loan if wanting to go to a London venue! This is the reality for millions........

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 60.

    Went to buy 3 tickets for a touring show from the West End in the Millenium Theatre Cardiff.....it would have been £153 for 3 good seats.....
    I am a regular theatre goer.....but that priced me out.

 

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