In a move welcomed by theatre bosses, the mayor pledged half a million pounds towards 100,000 free and discounted tickets. The mayor is backing this up with an offer of free bus travel, to highlight the message, 'London's Open for Business'.
The mayor said:
'This money is in direct response to calls from the theatres for a drive to win-back audiences. I hope that the free and subsidised tickets plus the free bus tickets will attract people back to London's theatres.
'We'll also be talking to London's leading restaurant owners to coordinate an additional incentive scheme and asking government, at least to match the amount I have already pledged.'
Theatre impressario Cameron Mackintosh said:
'This joint initiative with the mayor is a ground breaking and highly welcome kick start to encourage British audiences to visit London in the immediate future.
'There has never been a better or safer time to get great tickets to great shows and enjoy great restaurants and hotels at great prices.
'With the support of the mayor and, hopefully, the government, all of us who contribute to making London such a unique and much loved city want to ensure that now is the time to book that trip to enjoy the excitement of London's West End at a price you can't afford to miss.'
The promotion will run before the end of November as part of a pre-Christmas boost. Ken Livingstone has given his commitment to champion the Theatre industry again in the new year, as part of a long-term strategy to provide support through what is a traditionally quieter time. The mayor has also agreed to meet with the Theatre industry again next week to coordinate promotional activities.
Theatre representatives are meeting with culture secretary, Tessa Jowell next Wednesday to ask for similar support from the government.
Ken has already convened the London Tourist Action Group (LTAG) to address the downturn affecting the main tourism, leisure, hospitality and cultural sectors. This group brings together business support providers and key industry players to develop initiatives. LTAG, coordinated by the London Development Agency, will report back to the mayor on 1 November with specific proposals for inclusion in a Tourism Action Plan which will form the basis for government support.