Opinion: Why are there so many hidden costs on top of theatre tickets?

28 Jan
Posted in: Theatre News

Love the theatre, but don't go that often because you're finding it costs too much? Guest blogger Amanda Reynolds contemplates booking fees and other hidden costs - and encourages you to look beyond the West End...

Theatre often prides itself on being inclusive. Allowing audience members to escape from their troubles and spend three hours in a fantasy world. Sometimes it is challenging and makes the audiences come face to face with tough subjects such as bullying, homophobia, mental health, sexuality among other things. Not only can everyone find something within the arts that they enjoy, but we can also learn from it and it inspires and teaches the next generation. If this is the case, then why are some theatres and ticket agencies raising the prices even further by adding extra ‘hidden’ costs at the point of purchase?

With theatre tickets already being very high, why are some additional costs, such as booking fees, so expensive? We don't pay to order online at most online shops, even the very discount shops, so why should audience members be charged through the roof to book online? A recent visit to Hammersmith Apollo cost me £7.00 in booking fees! This was on top of an already expensive theatre ticket. Surely, these additional costs can be reduced? With many discount apps and websites offering no booking fee offers and free delivery, why can't the larger ticket websites and theatres do the same?

"By the time you have added travel costs, food, programmes and other expenses, a trip to the theatre can set you back upwards of £100 per person"

Delivery is an additional cost. Many theatres now allow you to print your own tickets to save costs or pick them up at the box office. Whilst this only helps people with access to a printer, even this is not always the case. Some websites even charge the same delivery fee for printing tickets at home. Something needs to be done to make theatre more accessible for everyone. Theatre has historically been seen as an expensive and even ‘elite’ pastime. This should not and does not have to be the case.

Theatre in the UK is fantastic. Something that everyone can enjoy. However, the increased cost of tickets and fees are pricing a lot of people out. By the time you have added travel costs, food, programmes and other expenses, a trip to the theatre can set you back upwards of £100 per person. The cost of taking a family now means many children have never seen a full-scale show, whether in London or in their local theatre.

Thankfully, Off-West End shows are a great low-budget option, and over the past year, some of the best musicals I've seen have been on these smaller stages. With intimate settings and a fresh approach, these shows often make for a fantastic alternative to the major West End shows. Unfortunately, many people do not realise that these shows are on because they aren't as widely advertised and tickets aren't as easily obtained. This is particularly true for families and people who do not often go to the theatre.

Have you been charged a lot for booking fees? Are you fed up of being charged extra on top of already expensive tickets? Should fees be upfront and included in the ticket price? What do you think theatres and ticket agencies can do about this issue? Is there a way of making theatre more accessible for all?

 - Amanda Reynolds (@wickedamanda) for StageFaves