Business groups and bodies, including the Society of London Theatre (SOLT) and UK Theatre, the Heart of London Business Alliance, the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions, UK Hospitality and the Night Time Industries Association. have written to the Transport Secretary, Mark Harper MP, as well as rail and union leaders to highlight the concerning impact of transport strikes on the theatre sector and to urge all parties to work together to avoid further strike action.
After strikes in June 2022, 70% of theatre businesses (over 90% in London) said that strikes affected them negatively, with 75% of venues experiencing audience cancellations or no-shows. With falls in sales averaging £10,000 per performance in London on strike days, theatre producers also face additional costs to cover staff and performer travel and accommodation, with these additional costs amounting to an average of £9500 per performance, totalling combined average costs of just under £20,000 per performance to the producer.
The impact of strikes reaches beyond the theatre sector. On average, for every £1 spent inside a theatre venue, a corresponding £1.27 is spent in the local economy on food, drink, transport and other services. This adds up to theatre audiences delivering an additional £1.93bn to the UK economy each year. Strikes will take this additional income away from the night time economy and hospitality sector, which, alongside the theatre sector, continue the slow road of recovery from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Society of London Theatre & UK Theatre, alongside the other trade and business groups, are calling for all parties to work together to ensure that further industrial action is avoided.