The West End theatre audience 1981-1986
This study gives an account of audience research undertaken between 1981 and 1986 at a sample of London theatres, and covering a wide range of productions, with the aim of establishing a profile of the West End theatre audience. Prior to this research, audience surveys in the U.K. had take place primarily outside London, or had been limited to one or two theatres. The study details the development of a research methodology for use in a large scale audience research project covering a variety of venues. The process by which techniques for audience sampling, questionnaire design and layout, survey method, and analysis of results were decided on is documented. The process by which an aggregated analysis of the West End audience as a whole was prepared from the sampled research findings is also described. Analysis of the survey findings begins with an examination of the effects of three variables on audience profiles; time of year, day of the week and type of production. An account is then given of the West End theatre audience overall. Demographic profiles, theatre-going behaviour, press and publicity use, and attractions and deterrents of London theatres are documented and analysed for the audience overall. Variations in the fore-going aspects of audience profiles and behaviour are also documented and analysed for each of the major demographic groups. As a preliminary to a proposed future study on the economic impact of the West End theatres on the local economy, an account is given of audience spending and of its value to local businesses. The results of the study indicate that theatre-going behaviour may be largely determined by social factors, and that the research therefore has a predictive value. The implications of this finding for marketing the theatre and for cultural policy-making are examined in the conclusions.