Two in five small theatres in the UK could face closure as energy costs soar and Christmas sales tank.
According to a new study by GoDaddy and the Society of Independent Theatres, three quarters of independent theatres – those with fewer than 300 seats – say their ticket sales have still not returned to pre-Covid levels.
This comes as a major blow as most small theatres hope to generate around 25 per cent of their revenue for the year during this festive period.
Christmas sales are set to drop by around a third this year against pre-pandemic levels, with just 40 per cent of people expecting to support their local venue’s festive production, compared to 60 per cent who did so in 2019.
This has had a significant impact on revenues for independent theatres, with around £845m in lost ticket sales this year, compared to pre-pandemic levels. Three quarters (75 per cent) of venues say customers are buying fewer tickets, and four in five (88 per cent) are concerned for their long-term future.
Three in five people say they have had to cut back on cultural activities due to the cost-of-living crisis.
“Arts venues were some of the hardest hit during Covid – among the first to close in lockdown and the last to re-open. Now the cost-of-living crisis has brought about new challenges,” Executive Director of Bristol Improv Theatre Luke Mallison.
“Against this backdrop, it’s vital for theatres such as ours to stand out online and maximise sales and donations through our website.”
The same story can be said for the live music space.
Founder and CEO of Music Venue Trust (MVT), a registered charity which acts to protect, secure and improve the country’s grassroots venues, Mark Davyd recently told City A.M. about the disastrous impact for live music.
Representing over 950 venues across the UK, Davyd warned that we are heading into a period of complete uncertainty for gigs as a result of the energy crisis and slowing consumer demand to spend money on live entertainment.
Davyd cited one unnamed MVT member who had seen their bills rise 1800 per cent after agreeing a new energy tariff – a story he said was not uncommon across the sector.
“The problem is that we are already in a high risk economic model with tight margins,” he told City A.M. “Ultimately there will have to be less shows as we head into the winter”.