BBC Proms attendance is sharply down

BBC Proms attendance is sharply down


norman lebrecht

September 13, 2014

The BBC has released attendance figures for the 2014 and, as suspected by the sight of empty rows,  the numbers are down.

Sold capacity at Royal Albert Hall concerts was 88 percent.

Over the past four years it has been consistently above 90 percent, reaching a record 94-95 percent in Roger Wright’s final seasons.

The 88% figure is still good, but there’s no denying the significant shrinkage.

bbc proms

press release:

A Glorious Summer for BBC Proms 2014

Following two months of great music-making, the 120th season of the BBC Proms concludes this evening with the world famous Last Night of the Proms celebrations. Edward Blakeman, Acting Director, BBC Proms, is pleased to announce that it has been another remarkably successful festival with more than 300,000 people attending 88 concerts in the Royal Albert Hall and Cadogan Hall.


Average attendance for the main evening Proms in the Royal Albert Hall this year was 88% with over half of all concerts in the Royal Albert Hall sold out.


Around 33,000 people bought tickets for the first time and more than 9,400 under 18s attended concerts across the season, an increase of over 1,000 from last year. Over 112,000 tickets were purchased when booking opened.


Edward Blakeman, Acting Director BBC Proms, says:

“I’m delighted that the 2014 BBC Proms has delivered such high quality performances throughout our eight weeks at the Royal Albert Hall. Once again, following the guiding spirit of Sir Henry Wood and with the ongoing commitment of the BBC, we’ve enjoyed a richly varied season of concerts that continues to offer great value for money. The atmosphere throughout the summer has been one of great excitement and engagement with the music.”


Jasper Hope, Chief Operating Officer, Royal Albert Hall says:

“London and the world has this summer enjoyed an extraordinary feast of music and musicians throughout the Proms. With ‎so many people attending performances by orchestras and performers from so many countries, the Proms this year has had a truly global feel. Our thanks to artists and audiences alike for a wonderful summer and we look forward to welcoming the Proms back in 2015.”


With more international orchestras performing at the Proms than ever before, including debuts from China, Greece, Iceland , Qatar, Singapore, South Korea and Turkey, this year’s Proms has been a celebration of music’s universal appeal. We have enjoyed welcome returns to the festival from the Berlin Philharmoniker, Cleveland Orchestra, Budapest Festival Orchestra, West-Eastern Divan Orchestra and Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. The 2014 Proms has also introduced the first ever BBC Sport Prom, CBeebies Prom and debuts from Paloma Faith, the Pet Shop Boys and Rufus Wainwright.


With Promming tickets remaining at £5 for the tenth year running, the finest music making from around the globe has been made accessible to the widest possible audience.


With 12 world premieres, 10 of which were BBC commissions, the Proms has continued to demonstrate its commitment to contemporary music.


In the spirit of the Proms’ enduring mission to make the best classical music available to everyone, more Proms content has been available to listen to online for longer than ever before across PC, mobile and tablet. Using this year’s digital innovations which include a dedicated Proms button on the BBC iPlayer Radio app, six interactive BBC iWonder guides, and BBC Playlister, audiences can enjoy the Proms whenever and wherever they like.


This season has seen over a million requests for audio and video content at, record requests for on-demand content in BBC iPlayer and over 2.5 million visits to the BBC Proms site. Social media has continued to grow; the Proms now has more than 38,000 Twitter followers and 35,000 Facebook fans.

BBC television welcomed a new roster of presenters to lead the Proms broadcasts across BBC One, BBC Two and BBC Four, including soprano Danielle de Niese, organist Wayne Marshall and BBC News presenter Razia Iqbal. A second series of BBC Two’s Saturday evening review show, Proms Extra, hosted by Katie Derham, has introduced audiences to a wide range of musical guests. Every Prom concert has been broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 and the audio streamed online in HD quality, with additional broadcasts on Radio 1, Radio 2 and for the first time on both Radio 4 and Radio 5 live year.

The Proms has an extensive learning programme with a rich offering of daily pre-concert and participatory events; this year it included talks by Martin Amis and Michael Morpurgo. Sir Henry Wood, founder-conductor of the Proms, believed in making the best-quality classical music available to the widest possible audience and that ambition remains central to the BBC Proms today.


  • David Pickett says:

    If attendance is down, I suspect that it is due to the being too many concerts in different venues, which tends to defocus the series and leads to people making choices. I have only heard those from the RAH, but they have been of high quality. I do wonder why the Missa Solemnis was made the second concert of the evening in the RAH, starting at 10:15 pm…

    • Neil McGowan says:

      Absolutely right, David.

      The huge costs and aggravation of driving/parking in London make public transport the preferred way of attending concerts for most people… yet public transport to areas just 15-20 miles from London is already shutting down for the night by the time of a 22-15 start for a concert :((

      It makes weak attendance a certainty for these late-starting events – thus dragging the overall seat take-up down for the entire series.

      But this was a ‘budget’ series, by comparison with previous years. The world-famous orchestras and soloists were spread far thinner through the program than usual – and replaced with merely-satisfactory performers in many cases. This pulls the legs from under the idea of a ‘festival’ – it was simply a very usual RAH program, with little that was ‘unmissable’. Perhaps money is the problem? However, the Proms public is very discerning, and will cheerfully flock (and pay extra) to unmissable programs, orchestras, conductors and soloists.

  • Gav says:

    for some reason norman does seem to delight in highlighting even the tiniest negative ‘news’ story about classical music ….

  • David Pickett says:

    The RAH proms have also all been streamed live in excellent experimental 4.0 surround sound. I am listening to the Last Night in 4.0 as I write this and it is the next best thing to being there, thanks to the BBC engineering dept.

  • Dave Billinge says:

    Well they kept the use of 4.0 surround sound very quiet. Here we are after the Last Night has finished and I have just found that out! Where can I find future surround broadcasts listed?

  • Simon Oswell says:

    I do note a glaring omission of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra from Australia (Prom 44) in your list of International Orchestras debuts.

  • Geoff Cox says:

    All very well continually highlighting the £5 arena/gallery tickets but to have a seat in the stalls costs around £30 and for the Mahler 3, £60 !! Too expensive for me to come to very many concerts.


  • Geoff Cox says:

    £58 something – twice the normal price for the stalls ! And Chailly was not able to conduct I read!!

  • Martin Baker says:

    I am trying to convey a suggestion for inclusion of alternate Max Bruch music at Proms 2015, perhaps? May we avoid Violin No1; Scottish Fantasy – and Kol Nidrei?
    I’ve become aware of volume support for something other than these three Bruch pieces, that perpetuate the side-lining of many of his other wonderful writings, which are, consequently, seldom – if never – played.
    Is there any hope that the world may hear Bruch’s lyrical THIRD Violin Concerto, with its utterly moving Adagio?
    I hope – even if this may not be the right route – that my message will get through…
    Many Thanks.
    Martin J Baker FRICS