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Key facts and figures

At the National, we make world-class theatre that is entertaining, challenging and inspiring. And we make it for everyone.

Key facts and figures

World-class theatre

  • We work with some of the world’s greatest theatre makers to make around 25 new productions for our stages each year
    In 2016 we staged 35 productions, employing 508 actors, 131 musicians
  • This award-winning programme is broad across the year in order to appeal to a wide and diverse audience
    In 2016 Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom won the Olivier Award for best revival
    In 2016 Denise Gough won the Olivier Award for best actress for her performance in People, Places & Things
  • Collaborations and co-productions allow us to extend our national reach and to work with a wide range of artists
    In 2016-17 this included Chichester (Young Chekhovs), National Theatre of Scotland (Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour), South Bank Sinfonia (Amadeus), Bristol Old Vic (Peter Pan), Birmingham Rep (Love), Out of Joint (Consent), Fuel and West Yorkshire Playhouse (Barber Shop Chronicles)
  • Of particular note is we’re here because we’re here, Jeremy Deller’s commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the first day of the Battle of the Somme on July 1st 2016, directed by Rufus Norris.
    There were 1,400 volunteers in this ground-breaking project
    It involved 27 partner organisations including the three national theatres working together for the first time
    2 million people saw the soldiers in the streets
    There were 97,000 posts on social media, with a total reach of 221m
  • The New Work Dept was created in 2015-16, bringing together the NT Studio and Literary Departments, and including the Immersive Storytelling Studio.  There are around 180 projects in development at any one time.
  • The innovative work in the immersive story-telling studio was recognised internationally in February 2017 with a nomination for Home/ Aamir in the VR category of the Social Impact Awards.
  • The NT’s Backstage App received a special commendation at the UK’s Digital Magazine Awards.


Made for Everyone

  • In 2015-16 we had a global paying audience of 4m, of which 1.5m was NT Live
  • Through free, un-ticketed events, digital and TV broadcast we reached a further 3.6m, giving us a total global reach of 7.6m
  • We had a UK paying audience of 2.5m, of which 0.7m was NT Live
  • 57% of all UK bookers were from outside London
  • We gave 3,625 performances of live theatre in 2015-16


Audiences at the NT:

  • Audiences voted with their feet and in 2015-16: we were on average 88% full, playing to a 7-year record of 787,000 people on the South Bank, with a “good” or “fantastic” rating of 80% from our audiences
  • There were 30% first-time bookers in 2015-16
  • Bookers under 35 were up 75% year-on-year
  • 155,000 tickets cost £15 or less
  • The average age of the NT audience dropped from 55 to 51 in 2015-16


World-leading Learning Programme

  • By January 2017, 2,600 schools in the UK, including 44% of all state secondary schools in the country had signed up to On Demand In Schools. Two-thirds of these schools are located outside of London and the South East. 280 of them are primary schools.  
  • There were 181,000 Learning participations in 2015-16
  • July 2016 saw Connections celebrate its 21st birthday: 7,152 participants from 487 youth and school groups staged a Connections play at one of 45 partner theatres across the UK
  • In 2017, primary and secondary schools tours of Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet will visit 93 schools, playing to over 9,000 pupils


Shared right across the UK and around the world

  • During 2015-16 we worked with 63 theatres across the UK
  • NT Live is in over 2,000 cinemas and 55 countries around the world
  • In September 2015 we opened War Horse in Mandarin in Beijing in partnership with the National Theatre of China playing for 200 performances in 5 Chinese cities
  • In 2015-16 Curious Incident became the longest-running play on Broadway in the last 30 years and winning 5 Tonys
  • Curious Incident began a 52 week US tour at the Kennedy Centre in September 2016
  • Tours of Curious Incident, Jane Eyre, and War Horse will visit 30 cities in 2017 and 2018 and a small to mid-scale tour of My Country will visit 14 venues.


Looking ahead: programme highlights in 2017

  • The range of productions, writers and directors for 2017 includes:
    Hedda Gabler, by Henrik Ibsen, adapted by Patrick Marber, Directed by Ivo Van Hove
    Angels in America, by Tony Kushner, Directed by Marianne Elliott
    Salomé, in a new version by Yaël Farber
    Pinocchio, directed by John Tiffany
    Follies, directed by Dominic Cook
    Network, adapted by Lee Hall and directed by Ivo van Hove with Bryan Cranston in the lead role
    Mosquitos, a new play by Lucy Kirkwood, directed by Rufus Norris



  • The NT had a better than expected financial outturn for 15/16 due to strong box office income and continued support from generous donors. We face a challenging landscape of declining revenues from transferred productions and, whilst some decisions have been taken to reduce costs, we will rely more than ever on support from our donors and self-generated revenue.
  • 60% of our income came from ticket sales for live theatre and our Arts Council grant represented 15% of total income.
  • Fundraising was up by 17% and in real terms our Arts Council grant has decreased by 25% since 2010.
  • We earned £6.4m from our commercial transfers and generated a surplus on unrestricted operations after designations of £5.5m. This surplus was used to increase our reserves in anticipation of a significant decline in commercial income following the closure of War Horse in the West End.



  • Our total audience outside of the UK was 1.2m. This was made up of 0.7m people who saw NT Live broadcasts in 55 countries around the world, and 0.5m who saw transfers of NT productions.
    The live audiences were made up of:
    War Horse in Holland: 60,156
    War Horse in China: 137,319
    Curious Incident on Broadway: 359,589
  • There was a new co production of Lucy Prebble’s play The Effect between NT America, Jean Doumanian and the Barrow Street Theatre
  • Our work with international artists is increasing:
    The Flick, by Annie Baker, directed by Sam Gold transferred from Barrow Street New York for a sell-out run in the Dorfman, and John, also by Annie Baker, directed by James McDonald will open in the Dorfman
    Ivo van Hove reconceived his production of Hedda Gabler which was first presented at New York Theatre Workshop
    Yaël Farber directed Lorraine Hansberry’s Les Blancs and in 2017 is returning with a reworking of her production of Salomé first presented at Shakespeare Theatre Company Washington
    Ugly Lies the Bone, a new play by Lindsey Ferrentino, directed by Indhu Rubasingham and opening in March 2017 was first shown at Roundabout’s Black Box Theatre in New York.


Full details of the latest Annual Review are available on the Annual Review website.


The National Theatre is a registered charity number 224223.