South west London theatregoers enjoy affordable shows as West End ticket prices soar by up to 300%

Theatregoers in south west London get more show for their buck after figures reveal that the price of West End tickets have soared by 300% since 2010.

A study conducted by SW Londoner found that in the last five years the most expensive seats in the region’s eight theatres rose in price by 34%, an average of £6.90.

This increased is eclipsed by the West End, where punters forked out up to 300% more in 2015 than in 2010, with prices peaking at a staggering £214 for The Book of Mormon.

In contrast the dearest south west London seats were to be found at The New Wimbledon Theatre’s Puttin’ On The Ritz, costing £59.90 – a £154.10 difference to its most expensive West End counterpart.

The cheapest non-concessionary seats in the area cost on average £10.90, an increase of £2.80 or 43.2% since 2010.

theatre price graph

Although such a rise is twice the cumulative national inflation rate of 19% over the last five years, the low starting point of south west London ticket prices means that they remain affordable.

Head of Communications at Battersea Arts Centre Katie Elston suggested the comparatively small increase is due to both the economy and ticketing systems.

“The recession has definitely had an impact in terms of prices not rising hugely,” she said.

“To a large extent, the difference between West End and regional prices can be put down to different pricing structures.”

Many West End theatres have adopted airline style dynamic pricing models, where the cost of tickets changes according to demand.

The majority of south west London theatres, including Putney Arts and Richmond Shakespeare society use a dual-tiered fixed price system with one set price for adults and one for children.

Although Battersea experimented with incremental pricing, a system in which prices steadily rise on a fixed schedule as a show gains momentum, the dynamic model has so far been rejected.

“There are some ethical issues in terms of access (with the dynamic model),” explained Katie.

“Potentially some of the people who would have bought tickets will be priced out.”

In 2010 Tara Arts theatre in Earlsfield was closed for refurbishment and to tidy up its Edwardian shop frontage.

Five years later and the multi-million pound project, including £2.5m of arts council funding and donations, is nearing completion.

Executive Director Jonathan Kennedy is candid about the challenges Tara Arts faces when it re-opens in February.

“We need to keep prices low because in reality we’re not competing with the West End,” he said.

“We’re competing with people going to the cinema, to dinner or the pub.

“We know two things – that 50% of our audience are from south west London, and that most people think nothing about spending £20 on a round of drinks, but flinch at the idea of buying a theatre ticket.

“Our challenge is to bring these people in with affordable theatre and excellent shows.”

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