Income for theatres in Wales and Northern Ireland has fallen faster than any other area of the UK in the first month of theatre closures, new data has revealed.
Revenue across Wales and Northern Ireland plummeted by 97% between March 17 and April 22, with Scotland’s venues losing 96% of income and those in England losing 90%.
The dramatic reductions in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland outstripped all regions in England, where the Midlands was the worst hit area.
The newly released data has been collated by consultants TRG Arts and arts data specialists Purple Seven, which are monitoring daily sales data from 196 venues across the UK.
The sample includes both commercial and subsidised venues, ranging from small studio theatres to houses of more than 1,000 seats including major West End and regional theatres.
TRG Arts’ latest analysis reveals the uneven nature of Covid-19’s impact on ticket sales across the UK, despite all nations losing at least 90% of business since the closures came into effect on March 17.
Looking at England alone, the Midlands saw a revenue reduction of 93% during the month following the shutdown, compared to England’s overall figure of 90%.
Arts organisations in the region have already signalled their intention to band together in the fight for survival, with the creation of the West Midlands Culture Response Unit, which is developing a "visibility, viability and recovery" plan for the next six months and beyond.
While the UK’s theatre revenue collapse has been universal, the North of England fared best, with a decline of 85%.
London saw a 92% loss, with the South and East of England falling by 90%.
TRG Arts stressed that the figures for English regions should be treated with caution as the number of venues in each region varied considerably.
Purple Seven’s chief executive Stuart Nicolle said the results for Wales and Northern Ireland were a particular worry.
He said: "The disparity in sales across the UK since the shutdown is concerning for the smaller UK nations. In the coming months it will be crucial to ensure arts organisations are fully skilled up with the tools and tactics that they’ll need to rebuild audiences in the recovery phase."
The newly released figures also indicate varied performance across the UK prior to the theatre closures, and suggest that the impacts of coronavirus did not take effect much before March.
In the six weeks before theatres closed, sales in England fell by 16% compared to the same period last year, with just a 7% drop in Wales. Scotland and Northern Ireland both felt bigger hits however, with sales down by 30% and 49% respectively.
TRG Arts’ chief executive Jill Robinson said it was surprising that Covid-19 did not have more of an effect on ticket buying earlier.
"Given the scale of media coverage of the spread of the global pandemic, we might have expected sales to slow significantly long before they did. Aggregated revenues across venues in the UK generally held strong in February. It was only at the end of the month that sales showed a steep decline. Scotland had a good February overall, but sales fell dramatically in March.
"Data for Northern Ireland shows year-on-year decline since the beginning of January, so the scale of the 49% drop in the shoulder period may be caused by other underlying issues in addition to Covid-19."
Previous data analysis from TRG Arts and Purple Seven outlined the effects of the past month on different sized venues, with receiving houses also showing worse declines that producing theatres.