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Theatre fifth most popular evening pastime, according to survey

Toby Lee, David Flynn and Selma Hansen in School Of Rock at the New London Theatre. Photo: Tristram Kenton School Of Rock: more than a quarter of respondents said they enjoyed going to see a show. Photo: Tristram Kenton
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A night at the theatre is more popular than an evening spent at a gig or watching live sport, new research has suggested.

The findings are taken from a YouGov survey commissioned by Birmingham’s Town Hall and Symphony Hall, which asked more than 2,000 people what they most enjoy doing in the evening.

More than a quarter of people surveyed (26%) named a trip to the theatre as a fun evening out, making it the fifth most popular activity listed by the survey.

Dinner at a restaurant was found to be the most popular way to spend an evening – named by 51% of people – while half of those surveyed said they preferred to stay in.

Going out drinking with friends (39%) and going to the cinema (27%) were also more popular than theatre.

But going to see a musical or play was more popular than ‘big ticket’ concerts (20%), watching a sports match (17%) or going to see live comedy (16%). Respondents were able to select as many pastimes as they wished.

Notably, the survey found that theatre was found to be more popular among younger and older people. Of the under 25s surveyed, 29% said they enjoyed an evening at the theatre – the same proportion as respondents over 55.

Live performance as a whole was found to be the most popular night out among young people, appealing to 63% of under-25s – compared with 45% of British adults as a whole.

The research also indicates that leaving the house in the evening is becoming more popular. In a similar study conducted in 2013, 70% of respondents said they were staying in during the evenings to “help keep the family finances afloat” – this has now fallen to 50%.

The survey sample was weighted to be representative of all UK adults. A full set of findings will be published by Yougov in January.

Nick Reed, chief executive of Town Hall and Symphony Hall, said the early findings “dash notions that the UK is a nation of couch potatoes, enjoying TV dinners in front of endless reality TV shows”.

He continued: “Half the adult population equate quality leisure time with getting out of the house and we note that across theatre, comedy and music there is a resurgent passion for live-performance entertainment.

“In an age where so much is filmed, shared and discussed online we should not ignore the magic you only get going from being in the moment at a show, gig or recital.”

The UK’s top 10 most popular evening activities

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