Weathering the cost-of-living storm across the UK

Storm clouds and lightning
08 Dec 2022

Research rings warning bells about the potential effects of the cost-of-living clouds rolling in across all four nations. Anne Torreggiani asks how we can brace for impact and support communities? 

What does your pricing say about you?

09 Mar 2022

Pricing is an overlooked form of communication. As soon as a price is placed on something, it sends out a message about the product, says David Reece

The art of the turnaround

Image of Watershed in Bristol
18 Apr 2024

In light of the huge challenges that so many arts and culture organisations have faced in recent years, Watershed’s Clare Reddington shares five ‘rules’ for turning your organisation round.

Theatre launches £4 tickets for low income households

12 Apr 2024

Bolton Octagon has announced that it will offer £4 tickets to local residents on Universal Credit, Pension Credit or living in low-income households who want to attend the theatre.

Launching this month, the scheme will see 1,000 tickets each year made available at £4, in addition to the venue's existing offer of £15 tickets on 10% of seats for Octagon shows.

“Our audiences tell us what fantastic value for money the Octagon is, but we know that for some people, the price can still be a barrier and especially during the cost-of-living crisis,” said Octagon Chief Executive Roddy Gauld.

“With this new scheme, fantastic seats will be available for just £4. We want as many people as possible to enjoy the magic of live theatre, and this is just one of the many ways we’re working to enrich our communities with fun, creativity and excitement.”

Bristol Beacon reports post-renovation ticket sales surge

An event being staged at Bristol Beacon
18 Mar 2024

Nearly 100,000 tickets have been sold for forthcoming shows at the recently reopened venue, following a £132m renovation.

UK Music calls for ‘urgent action’ to halve VAT on gig tickets

Crowd at a rock concert
28 Feb 2024

Ahead of the Spring Budget on 6 March, UK Music has appealed to the Chancellor to support the music sector, including an extension on Orchestra Tax Relief.

Programming, price, people and the pendulum of power

Confetti party
20 Feb 2024

If price has lost its power, what does that mean for arts organisations who continue to face financial challenges with increased costs and reduced demand, asks David Reece.  

Royal Albert Hall box goes on the market for £3m

19 Dec 2023

A  private box at the Royal Albert Hall (RAH) has been listed for purchase at £3m.

Marketed by Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, box 14 in the hall’s grand tier has been in the same family for several generations and has 843 years remaining on its lease.

When the hall opened in 1871, it was part-funded by people who were allocated seats in return for their initial investment. Today, 319 people own 1,268 of the hall's seats on 999-year leases. 

A new bill, debated by the House of Lords in October, would give the hall’s governing body the authority to sell an additional 52 seats to investors.

Seat holders must also support the hall financially by paying an annual levy called the “seat rate”, which for box 14 will cost £13,795, including VAT. They must also forgo their tickets for some 100 days each year, known as exclusions, so the hall can sell more commercially to non-seat holders.  

Seat holders who do not wish to use their seats for a concert or event can return them to the hall’s box office for the face value of the ticket less 10%. But it’s widely understood that some resell their tickets through third-party websites for profit.

The practice was recently condemned by Ed Sheeran after tickets for his November show at RAH were listed at up to £6,000 on the resale website Viagogo, prompting him to write a letter of complaint to the board of trustees.

During a debate on the second hearing of the Royal Albert Hall Bill, former Charity Commission Chair Baroness Stowell reiterated the Commission's long-held objection that more than 75% of the organisation's board of trustees are seat holders who can lawfully profit from ticket resales, should they wish.

Scotland to consider £1 music ticket levy

19 Dec 2023

Cross-party MSPs voice support for adding £1 tax to arena and stadium tours to raise money for struggling grassroots music venues.

Quaytickets renews partnership with SeatGeek 

20 Nov 2023

Quaytickets, a venue operator and ticketing services supplier based at The Lowry has renewed its partnership with the technology platform SeatGeek.

In addition, Quaytickets has announced four new clients, including the University of Birmingham, South Lanarkshire Council and The Brindley Theatre, joining the organisation's existing roster, which counts NIMAX Theatres, Nederlander Group and Somerset House, among others.

First partnering in 2019, SeatGeek’s platform allowed Quaytickets clients to directly list and sell tickets through distribution partners such as London Theatre Direct and Ingresso.

“Four years ago, we launched our partnership with SeatGeek in the hopes of bringing best-in-class technology to our venue, The Lowry,” said Rachel Miller, Director of Audiences, Sales and Marketing at The Lowry.

 “We also wanted to share that technology with our Quaytickets clients to maximise ticket sales and audience insights and deliver an industry-leading customer journey. 

“We’ve delivered exceptional results and look forward to launching our new service packages into the arts and cultural sector event ticketing market."

Peter Joyce, Managing Director of EMEA at SeatGeek, added: “From day one, our partners at Quaytickets and The Lowry have remained passionate, driven and curious – working in lockstep with us to solve the question of how ticketing can be better for fans and those working behind the curtain.

“We could not be more excited to continue working with Quaytickets and its clients to elevate the ticketing experience through our innovative back-end technology for the UK's most culturally significant institutions.”

Peers criticise Royal Albert Hall 'conflicts of interest’

25 Oct 2023

Fears that governance arrangements at Royal Albert Hall, which allow trustees to sell tickets on at huge profit, could influence decisions about how the venue is run.

Ticketmaster agrees fundraising drive for Music Venues Trust

12 Oct 2023

Ticketing giant Ticketmaster is launching a charity upsell option to support Music Venues Trust (MVT).

For one month starting 17 October, to coincide with MVT’s annual Venues Day, anyone buying a ticket on Ticketmaster will be given the option to donate directly to the music charity.

Ticketmaster has agreed to run the initiative annually and is pledging to match all donations received.

MVT CEO Mark Davyd told IQ the upsell will provide a practical method for fans to support grassroots music venues.

“We are incredibly grateful to the Ticketmaster team for putting it in place,” he added.

“Ticketmaster matching all fan donations is a powerful message for the whole industry about the support our sector needs and the will of the music community to provide it.”

This year, MVT’s Venues Day will be marked with an event at London’s The Fireworks Factory, inviting delegates from across the UK’s grassroots music venue sector to workshops, discussions and presentations.

The event offers support to people running grassroots venues and connects them with services that can help them.

Last week, MVT announced the first acquisition under its Own Our Venues scheme, aiming to safeguard the future of grassroots music venues through a community ownership initiative.

Bury St Edmunds theatre reopens after fire scare

08 Aug 2023

The Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds has reopened after a sudden closure last week due to a fire safety issue.

The venue closed to the public on 3 August on the advice of fire safety officers.

The Suffolk theatre reopened on Friday evening, a day after its closure, following work by a fire protection service.

The swift reopening meant that only a single performance - of Ghost the Musical by Suffolk Young People’s Theatre - had to be cancelled.

The theatre thanked fire protection company Pyrodec LTD for rearranging its schedule to complete the work as quickly as possible.

“If you had tickets and haven’t yet been contacted, you can email us at to let us know if you would like a refund or for your tickets to be transferred,” a theatre spokesperson said.

“We’d like to thank all our customers and the cast of Suffolk Young People's Theatre for their patience and understanding.”

Backlash over Edinburgh International Festival ticket pricing

The London Symphony Orchestra pictured at the Barbican.
03 Aug 2023

Concerns raised that introduction of dynamic ticket pricing will impact overall sales and the composition of audiences. 

Theatregoers evacuated in West End bomb threat

26 Jul 2023

Theatregoers were evacuated from a matinee performance of The Lion King in London’s West End on Sunday after a bomb threat.

The area around the Lyceum Theatre on Wellington Street was taped off as police searched the building. 

In a statement on Sunday, a spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police said confirmed nothing was found. “Staff have returned and the incident has been stood down,” the spokesperson said.

The police have released no further details about the incident, which occurred at around 4pm. A spokesperson told The Independent that the force doesn’t discuss bomb hoaxes.

Crowds of evacuated theatregoers and passersby waited outside the theatre as the search took place.

“The Lyceum Theatre got evacuated mid-performance yesterday but we managed to meet the Lion King cast in full costume,” one audience member tweeted.

The theatre has yet to release a statement but on Monday another Twitter user who had been evacuated asked the venue, the official Lion King account and Ticket Master whether theatregoers would be refunded or allowed to rebook.

Ticket Master’s customer service account responded to the query asking him to check his direct messages. The company has made no official statement about whether or not audience members should expect to be refunded for their tickets.

Other theatregoers contacted the Ambassador Theatre Group on Twitter to request information about whether or not tickets would be refunded, but did not receive a public response.

Ipswich theatre adds restoration levy to ticket prices

27 Jun 2023

Ipswich Regent Theatre will begin charging a restoration levy of £1.50 per ticket to fund a planned £3m refurbishment.

The additional cost will be added to all tickets priced over £10, with the money raised going towards funding the theatre’s improvement and upkeep. 

Plans for the refurbishment include improving disabled access and modernising and increasing the venue’s toilet provision, including the installation of a new onsite changing places facility.

The bar area will be extended and the Circle Lounge fully refurbished. The project also aims to restore some of the almost century-old building's original art deco features.

“The investment is required to ensure that the facilities are modernised so that customers receive the very best experience,” said Sophie Connelly, Ipswich Borough Council portfolio holder for culture and customers.

The theatre last underwent an upgrade in 2014. Permission was granted for new dressing room facilities, catering and wardrobe space in 2022. 

Theatre and live music prices rise as inflation remains at 8.7%

21 Jun 2023

Increases in the cost of theatre and live music performances have contributed to record inflation rates for recreation and culture, Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show.

Data published today by the ONS shows the UK's inflation rate stayed at 8.7% in May - the same rate as in April - and down from a peak of 11.1% last year.

The ONS said that while falling prices for motor fuel was one of a number of areas that contributed to downward pressure on inflation, this was counteracted by increases in others.

It cited rising prices for recreational and cultural goods and services as being among the "largest upward contributors".

The annual inflation rate for this category in the year up to May 2023 was 6.8%, up from 6.4% in April.  

It represents the highest level of inflation for recreational and cultural goods and services since the ONS began recording figures in their current format in January 2006. The last time it was higher was in August 1991 when annual price rises were recorded at 7.2%.

The ONS has attributed some of the rise to cultural services, where average charges for live music events and theatre admissions rose this year having fallen a year ago.

Three essential trends for theatre managers

31 May 2023

With many conflicting demands on theatre managers’ time, Robin Cantrill-Fenwick identifies three key trends to help keep theatres on track.

Nottingham Castle to reopen with new pricing structure

22 May 2023

Nottingham Castle will reopen on 26 June, seven months on from its closure when the trust responsible for its operation entered liquidation.

When the castle reopened in 2021 after a £31m redevelopment project, a standard admission price of £13 was introduced, or £9.50 for children, leading to complaints and calls for ticket prices to be reviewed, according to local press at the time.

The heritage site will now adopt ‘pay once, visit all year’ ticketing arrangements when it reopens, with adults able to pay £12 for all year access, with children under 15 able to go free with a paying adult.

A family of five will now be able to buy an annual pass for £24, compared with £35.50 before the castle’s closure.

The new admission arrangements will include unlimited access to the grounds, Brewhouse Yard Cottages, Robin Hood Adventures and Rebellion Galleries and the castle museum, unlimited for a 12-month period.

Councillor Pavlos Kotsonis, Portfolio Holder for Leisure, Culture and Planning at Nottingham City Council, said the the local authority hopes the announcement will come as welcome news.

“We have endeavoured to listen to what visitors didn’t like about the Trust’s admission arrangements, and I believe the simpler pricing and exceptional value we are announcing will help to encourage visitors, near and far, to come back again and again.”

A new website has been launched to take advanced bookings.

Successful membership schemes build stronger audience connections

16 May 2023

Cultivating strong audience relationships is essential for sustainability. And that loyalty is crucial to achieving this goal, writes Nick Stevenson


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