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London theaters report record 2010 box office

Attendance slightly down from 2009

Box office for London theater in 2010 broke records for the seventh year in succession, according to the Society of London Theater (Solt).

The year’s total revenue of £512.3 million ($815 million) was up 1.46% over 2009. Although attendance across tuners, plays, opera and dance in all 52 Solt venues was down compared to the previous year’s record by 0.79%, the total of 14.2 million was the second highest ever recorded.

The figures are particularly impressive given the U.K. recession. Latest government figures for the final quarter of the year show an economic contraction of 0.5%.

London theater also had to contend with a volcanic ash cloud that closed U.K. airspace during April and May and savaged tourism, as well as extended heavy snow during the usually lucrative run-up to Christmas that halted traffic in and out of the capital.

Solt chief exec Julian Bird said: “People have voted with their feet again by flocking to London’s theaters. Our customers experience the huge variety of shows that we stage each year, and in these difficult economic times are enjoying the theater just as much.”

The total number of performances overall rose to 18,615 and audiences for plays proved particularly strong, hitting 3.7 million for a 2% attendance rise; revenue climbed 10% to $170 million.

In a year markedly low on new musicals, total tuner attendance was down 3% to 8.4 million, with revenue dropping 1% to $516 million. Opera, dance, performance pieces and other entertainments, however, were up 3% in terms of both attendance and revenue, with 2 million attendees yielding $129 million.

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