National Theatre reaches £80m income for first time, reveals its annual report

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The National Theatre’s annual report for 2011/12 has revealed that its overall income for the financial year reached a new record high of £80 million.

This increase in total income from last year’s £70.6 million coincides with an improvement to average levels of attendance at the South Bank venue, which have gone from 90% in 2010/11 to 92% in 2011/12.

In the past financial year, which ran to March 31, 2012, the National staged 23 new productions, of which 12 were new plays. It put on nearly 1,800 performances in London and the report shows that around a third of its audiences were first-time bookers.

Box office sales at the National Theatre including the UK production of War Horse plus its international transfer accounted for nearly 50% of the total income for the second year running.

In the UK this year, War Horse, which ran at the West End’s New London Theatre, generated more than £15 million box office income. Meanwhile, One Man, Two Guvnors, now booking at the Theatre Royal Haymarket until August 2013, produced nearly £7 million income.

One Man, Two Guvnors was also the most successful National Theatre Live single broadcast after 54,000 people saw it worldwide, including 32,000 in the UK.

Nicholas Hytner, the National Theatre’s artistic director, highlighted the success of the the Travelex season, which allows audience members to see shows for £12, that saw over 200,000 people attend performances.

However, he emphasised that while the National’s financial success is secure in the short-term, it would need the government to restore its public funding to maintain its future in the long-term. This year the National had its arts council funding cut by 7%, as planned.

He said: “Because principally we [the National Theatre] have an ability to exploit our commercial hits, this means we have no short-term problems. We are doing okay at the moment but in the medium to long-term it is essential that our funding is restored.”

In his introduction to the report, Hytner said that reduced public funding to London-based theatres – and especially regional theatres - is a constant threat.

He added: “They [regional theatres] face a double threat – from cuts to their arts council funding and to local government funding.”