One in four theatre goers have checked their phone during a show, says new theatre report

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A new theatre report has revealed some interesting findings. Firstly, contrary to the common belief that theatre attracts older audiences the new report, unveiled today, reveals that ‘likelihood of attending the theatre’ in fact decreases by age. 16-19 year olds are the most likely to attend the theatre whilst 45-54 year olds are the least likely to attend.
The report, conducted by LiveAnalytics (Insight division of Ticketmaster International, Live Nation Entertainment), charts a number of recent developments in UK’s theatre industry. The study called State Of Play: Theatre UK paints a picture of an art form in rude health. 63% of the UK population attended a performance at a theatre last year.
The report identifies a surprising appetite for experimentation among theatregoers. 36% would rather go to a new performance of a limited run than a show which has been running for more than two years. Around 39% of theatregoers love interactive theatre, and over half think that streaming live performances is a great idea. Popular favourites are still important too, with Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera and The Lion King listed as the top three shows.
Theatre attendees still find certain behaviour in theatre unacceptable, despite admitting they are guilty of such behaviour. For example, checking one’s mobile phone during a performance is considered the least acceptable behaviour, though more than one in four has done it at least once. Theatregoers between the ages of 25-34 are most guilty of checking their phones during a performance.
Industry professionals might want to take note that one in five attendees now writes reviews about shows they have seen, generally using social media (i.e. Tweeting about a show after seeing a performance).
The role of public funding in bringing culture to the masses goes unrecognised among audiences. Just 26% of UK theatregoers (one in four) identified past trips to publicly funded theatre in the survey, though the percentage was significantly higher (47%) in the North East – perhaps reflecting the area’s proud socialist politics.
Sophie Crosby, Vice President Insight for Ticketmaster International said: “Information and insight about theatre-goers habits and attitudes, compared with Broadway or the film industry that regularly share data in trade publications, is surprisingly underutilised. This report demonstrates LiveAnalytics wealth of data and understanding, which we hope will benefit the industry and help it to continue to evolve and remain competitive.”
The cost of attending the theatre remains the main barrier to entry among non-attendees (27%) and theatre-goers (35%) as reduced priced ticketing options are becoming increasingly more important for venues and audiences alike.
Theatre also has an impact on foreign travel; of foreign theatregoers interviewed, 62% said their trip to the UK was influenced by its culture scene.
While in some ways a trip to the theatre is a less formal experience than it once was – 74% have dressed casually during a visit and 41% have laughed in an inappropriate place, it is as powerful an art form as ever, creating deep emotional connections. Over two in 5 – and more than half of female viewers – have cried during a performance. There are signs that new technology is starting to subvert how we experience and behave at the theatre though – 4% of respondents have used social media during a performance.
The Sample
  • 1006 theatre attendees from the UK (representative sample)
  • 200 attendees from the US (indicative sample)
  • 100 from Australia (indicative sample)
  • 100 from Ireland (indicative sample)
  • 50 from Germany (indicative sample)