This is supposed to be the worst period for live theatre in history; with government cuts to the arts and increased austerity supposedly hitting the industry hard. But London theatre has defied the so-called Olympic downturn to record its ninth successive year of record box office returns, The Stage reports. 

The figures, released this week by the Society of London Theatre, show gross sales of £529.8 million - up 0.27% on 2011. Meanwhile, attendances were 13,992,773 - also up (0.56%) on 2011, but still below levels in 2010 and 2009.

SOLT president Mark Rubinstein told The Stage he was "delighted" with the results. He said: "I think every member of SOLT was concerned, nervous about the impact the Olympic and Paralympic Games was going to have. And it's not just the Olympics - if you look at what is happening in retail and high street names falling,"

He continued, "The Olympics did take a bite out the business in the summer but we had a very strong start to the year, a very good autumn and the advances [advance box office] are up - at the end of last year it reached a record breaking high."

The Olympics were a tremendous success for Great Britain, attracting billions of pounds and many new visitors, but unfortunately, for the theatre industry at least, most of those people weren't in the country to see a play. Still, the record ticket sales should be a boost of confidence.