Not wishing to dampen any expectations – by the time you read this, you will doubtless know the results of the Euro ’20 championships – but with all the talk of the popularity of football, especially the big occasions – many people have overlooked a fundamental truth about football and theatre. Because it is a fact that many times MORE people attend theatre every year than football matches.
Yep, everyone knows that theatre is posh and exclusive and football is common and popular But it ain’t true, folks. Now I speak as a council estate kid who left school with no qualifications but was crap at football. It’s certainly true that as a kid, theatre was never mentioned and football was, although occasionally one or two families on the estate might go to a Pantomime at Christmas. And yet the figures speak for themselves. Theatre is far more popular in this country than football. Amen. Remember that Government. The West End alone generates 3% of the country’s economic output: £51 billion of GVA per year – more than the City of London! The West End generates taxes of £17 billion per annum. Theatre attendances just in the capital are higher than for the whole of the Premier League put together. The analysis showed there are 241 professional theatres in London, with more than 110,000 seats and attendances of 22 million. That compares with 13 million attendees for all of England’s Premier League football games.
But, having said that, it’s not all good news. As we reopen and theatre and live entertainment returns, MAKERS of theatre – of which I am one – must remember that although theatre is more popular than football, there are still large swathes of our country and communities that don’t get involved or attend theatre in any way. True, not everyone attends football – as I’ve just said – but whereas we all know how theatrical football is – there are goodies and baddies, total suspense, cliffhangers and resolution throughout the two acts… sorry, halves… we should be aware, that on so many levels, theatre in its many forms can be BIGGER than football. And truly life changing. That’s why I launched the first ever Diploma for Creative Producing (www.TheatreProducerTraining.com) and we’ve launched the West London People’s Theatre Company (www.MaverickPeoplesCompany.com) Both initiatives increase access to theatre and the arts. Which is really where we need to be. On the ball…!