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In our Audiences

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In our Audiences

By 2017–18, we will:

  • Aim to sustain the proportion of under-35s booking, which increased from 15% to 22% in 2015–16
  • Aim to increase re-attendance within 12 months by first-time bookers by 50%
  • Increase attendance of people from BAME backgrounds and people with a disability, based on targets to be set in 2016-17


As a theatre for the nation we have to be for everyone – in what we are debating, the subjects we are looking at, the people and stories we are representing.  We support our aim to welcome the broadest possible audience by continuing to programme and cast diversely and protecting low ticket prices.

Through extensive surveying, data gathering and audience focus groups we have gained valuable insight into the audience at the NT. In the last year, over 33,000 surveys were completed by NT audiences (including for the installation and River Stage). This is used to help inform planning decisions, and to help suggest improvements to FOH and our marketing, especially helping us to understand the diverse audiences we want to develop, and the audience perspective in richer detail.

2016-17 was another strong year for younger audiences, with over 60,000 individual bookers aged under 35. At 19%, this was slightly lower as a percentage than the record-breaking 22% seen in 2015-16, but significantly higher than any other year on record. Sarah Kane’s Cleansed was the most popular production with this age group, with nearly half of bookers being under-35. Our work to engage younger audiences continues, and in April 2017, with the support of Delta Airlines, we doubled the quantity of Entry Pass tickets available to under-25s. The scheme now offers 25,000 across the year for just £7.50.

Attendance by first-time bookers remained high at 30%, and we continue to test a range of strategies to encourage re-attendance within 12 months of their first visit.

In 2017 we undertook research to inform a target for increasing BAME audience representation, and it will now form part of our audience and engagement plan for the Arts Council Funding period 2018-22.

Analysis conducted so far has confirmed that Disabled people are underrepresented in our audiences. We recognise that there are numerous, complex reasons for this. In addition to increasing Disabled representation on our stages, we are working to increase the accessibility of all performances, and will announce a major pilot project to improve access for D/deaf, blind and visually impaired audiences in Autumn 2017. Affecting significant change in attendance by Disabled audiences is necessarily a long-term goal, but one that we are deeply committed to. To that end, in 2018-19 we will undertake large-scale research and consultation exercise with Disabled audiences in order to discover more about barriers to seeing NT work on the South Bank and through NT Live. Based on this, we will put in place an action plan to increase opportunities for Disabled audiences to engage with us, and share the main findings with the sector.

Our relaxed performances programme has continued to be popular with both audiences and staff, most recently with Peter Pan and on tour in Birmingham with The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Relaxed performances welcome visitors who benefit from a relaxed performance environment, including people with an Autism Spectrum Condition, sensory and communication disorders, or a learning disability. There will be a relaxed performance of Pinocchio in March 2017.