Guidance, Reports and Resources

Guidance, Reports & Resources


UKT and SOLT logos

In partnership with SOLT, UK Theatre commissioned Nordicity, working with Alistair Smith, Editor of The Stage, to carry out a major research project into the current and future training needs of the theatre and performing arts sector.

The Theatre Workforce Review will help us to work with employers, and government, to ensure we have the right skills and expertise in place for our industry to thrive.  


UK Theatre and SOLT, with Equity (supported by the LTC, the ITC, Act for Change and the Theatre Development Trust) have commissioned Tonic Theatre to develop and test a practical tool to support theatres to consider diversity during the casting process.

The need to improve the diversity of the theatre and performing arts workforce has been a key issue for our sector for some time. It is now recognised that for theatre and the performing arts to continue to contribute to the UK’s world-leading creative industries they must draw on the talent base, and build audiences, from all areas of society.

The planning tool could make a broad and lasting contribution to ensuring that the diversity of actors on our stages improves. In turn this would contribute to a step-change with the diversity of the theatre workforce and audiences. 

Tonic Theatre has created a tool to help organisations to deliver on their own ambitions for change. The planning tool supports theatres and producing companies to make a clear plan for the change they want to see, provides prompts, a framework for challenge, and it allows them to evaluate their success.

We are trialling the planning tool over a 12 month period from mid 2017 - 2018, during which time it will be used by a range of organisations; different scales, building-based and touring, London and regional, those that cast in-house and those that use freelance casting directors. Those organisations trialling the tool are:

  • Headlong
  • National Theatre
  • Nottingham Playhouse    
  • The Other Palace
  • Sheffield Theatres  

Following the trial, UK Theatre, SOLT and Equity (working with other sector partners) intend to make the planning tool available to all those in the theatre and performing arts sector that are keen to bring diversity to casting.

FINAL REPORT - From Live-To-Digital

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY - From Live-To-Digital

Response to our Live to Digital research

Arts Council England, UK Theatre and Society of London Theatre (SOLT)

Digital technologies are disrupting established practices and creating new opportunities for innovation across the creative economy.

Over the last few years a number of studies have explored this statement. From Hasan Bakhshi and David Throsby’s 2010[1] research, the Digital Culture survey from Arts Council England, the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and NESTA, and research commissioned by Arts Council England in collaboration with the British Film Institute (BFI). It is clear that organisations are using technologies to reach new audiences, generate new revenue streams, and generate entirely new forms of creative work. However, the research has also highlighted many knowledge gaps in relation to digital audience experiences and digital production and distribution.

We know that the UK is a now a global leader in event cinema. It has 35 active distributors of content and has formed the only trade body for the industry, the Event Cinema Association. In 2014 event cinema was worth over £35 million in the UK and Ireland and accounted for over 3% of total box office sales.

As well as big players such as National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company, there is also evidence of small-scale organisations being able to enter this market.  But although event cinema is an attractive business prospect for some content producers, others are concerned about the impact on the live model, and particularly on touring.

These are the issues that motivated us -Arts Council England, UK Theatre and Society of London Theatre (SOLT) - to ask AEA Consulting to deliver this report.

Our aims were to have an improved understanding of the impact digital screenings are having on audiences for live theatrical performances, and to understand whether touring patterns were being affected by event cinema. We also knew it would be important to understand who is engaging with digital performances, where they are, and whether they are more diverse than audiences at live events. We also wanted to learn what might be preventing those who produce and present theatre to enter the market for event cinema or other types of digital distribution and what the opportunities could be for smaller organisations to create digital content.

We welcome the findings of AEA’s research as the first authoritative piece of primary research into the impacts of live to digital work on audience and organisations. The report has provided a roadmap of how Arts Council England, UK Theatre and Society of London Theatre (SOLT), working with others across the sector, can help England’s theatre sector to remain vibrant, vital and relevant while embracing both the live performance that remains unique to theatre’s appeal, and the evolving digital technologies.

In order to ensure we capitalise on the growing success of the use of digital technologies Arts Council England and UK Theatre and SOLT will separately lead on the following actions:

Sign-post existing opportunities for Live-to-Digital capacity-building

ACE will work more closely with organisations like Canvas and The Space to offer training that might be of relevance to organisations wishing to develop and distribute digital content.

UK Theatre and SOLT will produce guidance for those who are looking how develop and distribute digital content, including the sign-posting of existing opportunities for live-to-digital capacity-building.

Investigate the creation of new showcasing opportunities

Although assessing England’s Live-to-Digital presence overseas was beyond this study’s remit, several interviewed emphasized the importance of England’s Live-to-Digital export as a potential income generator, a ‘soft’ political tool, and an opportunity to develop inter-cultural exchange. ACE will explore opportunities for extending international showcasing opportunities with other parties such as the Department of International Trade and the British Council.

Facilitate the adoption of the Event Cinema clash diary

UK Theatre and SOLT will lead on encouraging better coordination among those programming and producing live performance and those producers, distributors and exhibitors scheduling Event Cinema programming in the same catchment.

Negotiate a standard agreement for Live-to-digital rights

UK Theatre and SOLT will lead on negotiating a standard agreement for Live-to Digital rights, guidelines and royalty fees in collaboration with Equity and working closely with publishing houses trade bodies, collection agencies and agents. This will cover the entire digital lifetime of a project (‘live’, ‘encore’ and available in perpetuity).

Undertake further research

Arts Council England will commission further research into the impact of live to digital which unites all genres. While this study revealed some information about other art form effects, this was not the primary focus. Therefore we will lead on research which looks at the impact on opera, music, dance and museums (exhibitions).

Arts Council England also will work with a range of interested partners on further action research projects to explore new collaborative approaches to building cross over audiences for both ‘live’ and ‘live to digital’ theatre activity.

UK Theatre and SOLT will lead on further research to consider live-to-digital’s impact on the theatre and performing arts sector over time, and to identify emerging trends.

Together we will monitor the finding that streaming attracts younger and more diverse audiences, and understand how this knowledge can be put to good advantage


This response to the live to digital research forms part of a wider piece of work led by the Arts Council on gaining a better in depth understanding of the current picture of theatre production, presentation and audiences across the sector as a whole. Later this month Arts Council will be publishing an ‘Analysis of Theatre in England’ which provides further research on the current state of the theatre industry in England.

[1] Culture of Innovation: An economic analysis of innovation in arts and cultural organisations 2010 

UK Theatre commissioned this report with funding from Arts Council England and the Theatre Development Trust into new ways of financing touring in the UK. You can download it here.

A benchmarking report undertaken by UK Theatre, comparing box office figures for 2013 and 2014 from its member venues, has shown that despite significant cuts to public funding regional theatre continued to prove extremely popular, with a slightly higher proportion of available tickets sold and cash value achieved in 2014 than in 2013.

In 2014, UK Theatre’s sister organisation, the Society of London Theatre (SOLT) recorded attendances of 14,744,887 and box office income of £623,616,401. 

The combined membership between the two organisations achieved over £1 billion in box office sales and sold more tickets than the entire live audience of the English Premier League (13.7 million), English Football League (16.4 million) and Scottish Premiership (2.0 million) for the 2014/15 season combined. 

As well as confirming the overall size and financial impact of regional theatre, the new benchmarking report is the first ever comprehensive analysis of sales data by genre and venue type for UK Theatre (formerly TMA) venues.

The infographic below is a snapshot of the report:

Certain UK Theatre Memberships allows access to the Box Office Sales Data Reports. These are produced weekly using information from 6,600 performances in member venues. 

Collecting this data from participating venues allows us to provide Members with what we hope is useful information and gives us an insightful picture of theatre trends around the UK. This is a vital tool for us to use on our Members’ behalf for further advocacy and lobbying on an regional and national level.

We receive a fantastic number of returns each week and the process is straightforward. Every Monday we send an email to the person each organisation nominates to provide their sales figures. This email contains a link to a simple unique form for you to fill in some basic information for every show (including non-theatre shows) you have presented in the last week. It’s a quick and easy online process and only takes a few minutes to complete. We code all shows internally, using details from each theatre’s website so we have a full picture of the shows that are out across the UK.

We collect all data on Mondays, analyse the data on Tuesdays and then send a weekly report by email each Wednesday. 

  • Weekly email reports compare your ticket yield and capacity achieved to the national average
  • Quarterly reports compare your data against an anonymised benchmark based on 7 to 10 venues of your choice.

The summary of our 2016 box office sales figures can be downloaded here.

UK Theatre are active participants in What Next? a movement bringing together arts and cultural organisations from across the UK, to articulate, champion and strengthen the role of culture in our society.

What Next? has produced some practical guidance on ethics to help cultural organisations navigate the difficult situations they can find themselves in when an action sparks controversy – for example, the presentation of a divisive piece of work. Read it here. 

In 2015, following extensive consultation and development, UK Theatre created a Code of Practice for venues and producers.  All professional theatre organisations can download the Code and sign up by emailing

Rachel Tackley (UK Theatre President at the time of publication) commented: 

"For many venues and producers, touring has never been more challenging.  It is crucial that we work together as an industry as much as we can.  I hope the Code will ensure that the good practice that is taking place in much of the sector spreads everywhere.

The Code covers basic issues around transparency and working in a timely manner.  It will not constrict commercial deal making between venues and producers but I hope it will bring clarity and reduce frustration, ultimately leading to an easier movement of work for audiences across the UK."

The Code has been developed by UK Theatre but is designed for all professional venues and producers.  Charlotte Jones, Chief Executive of the ITC, welcomed the introduction of the Code: 

"For decades the industry has needed a way to help producers and venues work more effectively together.  ITC warmly welcomes the new Code of Practice and looks forward to working with UK Theatre and other partners to actively encourage as many venues and producers of all sizes to recognise the Code".

The Code has been developed by a working party including UK Theatre Members and was warmly received at the UK Theatre Touring Symposium where a consultation was conducted on the final draft in March 2015. The first year’s operation of the Code was reviewed at UK Theatre’s 2016 event.

The following organisations have so far agreed to recognise the code:

  • Ambassador Theatre Group
  • Anvil, Basingstoke
  • APL Theatre
  • Arts Theatre, London
  • Belgrade Theatre
  • Birmingham Royal Ballet
  • Bush Theatre
  • Curve, Leicester
  • English Touring Theatre
  • Festival Theatre, Edinburgh
  • Hall for Cornwall
  • Headlong
  • HOME, Manchester
  • HQ Theatres
  • King's Theatre, Edinburgh
  • Mayflower, Southampton
  • National Theatre
  • National Theatre of Wales
  • Playful Productions
  • Polka Theatre
  • Royal Shakespeare Company
  • Salisbury Playhouse
  • Sheffield Theatres
  • Soho Theatre
  • Theatre Royal, Newcastle
  • Watershed Productions 

To agree to abide by the code and have your organisation’s name published in this list, email Venues and producers should also abide by the UK Theatre/BECTU Code of Conduct for Get-Ins, Fit-Ups And Get-Outs, which can be found here.

In 2013 the British Theatre Consortium and UK Theatre/Society of London Theatre produced a report, British Theatre Repertoire 2013, based on the programmes of 273 auditoria, the most extensive and detailed dataset ever compiled on British theatre’s repertoire. The most striking finding was that, for the first time since records began, new work had overtaken revivals in the British Theatre repertoire. 

In the 2014 report, the main headlines were:

  • British theatre continues to defy austerity
  • London theatre pulls further away from the rest of the UK in a theatre landscape dominated by long-running musicals
  • New work remains ahead of revivals, with a small decline in new writing and a marked increase in devising
  • Classical revivals are dominated by Shakespeare and women’s revivals by Agatha Christie
  • More than half of the National Theatre and RSC new plays are by women 

To download the report in full, click here.

We asked UK Theatre members to complete a survey about their experiences with Theatre Tax Relief. 

To download the responses, click here.

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