Norwich Theatre Royal celebrates ticket sales rise in bumper year for the venue

Peter Wilson, chief executive of Norwich Theatre Royal. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY.

Peter Wilson, chief executive of Norwich Theatre Royal. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY. - Credit: Simon Finlay

Norwich Theatre Royal's strong position as a key venue in the region's arts scene is continuing to grow - and the theatre's chief executive has said this is making the venue even more ambitious for the future.

The theatre's annual survey has reported a substantial rise in ticket sales - 415,403 tickets were sold in the 2013-14 financial year which was a year-on-year increase of just over 11,000, and this left the theatre with a surplus of £769,490, a rise of £217,308 year-on-year.

Big highlights of the season had included the first visit to Norwich for Northern Ballet's The Great Gatsby, more than 13,000 people seeing the first-ever national tour of Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap, and the pre-West End visit of Bill Kenwright's Twelve Angry Men production. The month before last Christmas also saw every single performance sell out, with huge demand for Slava's Snow Show, Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake, and Priscilla Queen of the Desert.

The year saw 102 productions play 433 performances to an average occupancy of 75pc - well up on a 61pc national average for venues of a similar size - and a 4pc rise in the theatre's Friends membership to 12,408.

The theatre was also involved in the hugely successful Houghton Revisited exhibition at Houghton Hall in north Norfolk, and was working hard on ambitious plans for a £3m-plus Education and Skills Centre to bring the theatre's education department and arts courses under one roof.

When asked about the theatre's success ahead of its annual meeting, chief executive Peter Wilson said: 'It is because it is a combination of really good shows, a great spread of shows, and prices that are attractive, and it is to do with everybody in the team pulling in the same direction, and particularly Houghton Revisited was also a huge part of 2013/14...It was a major international success.'

He added: 'It makes us more ambitious, and the work with the education centre, if we get the money to build it, will transform the educational offer at the theatre. At the moment we are just £3,000 short of £1m for the project.'

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It was also announced that the theatre's chairman David Merrick was stepping down after five years at the helm, and that the new chairman would be Michael Newey who has been the group chief executive of Broadland Housing since May 2003.

• Do you have a Norwich arts story? Email arts correspondent Emma Knights at

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