West End theatres criticised over lack of women's toilets

‘The lack of women’s loos at the theatre is not just an inconvenience, it’s an access issue’

Sabrina Barr@fabsab5
Thursday 03 January 2019 12:04
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West End theatres have been condemned for the severe lack of bathroom facilities that are provided for women.

Waiting in the bathroom queue during a theatrical production can be a very tedious task, especially when you’re pushed for time during a brief interval.

This is especially true for women, with new research revealing that theatres in London’s West End only have an average of one toilet for every 38 women in the audience.

According to British Standard sanitary guidelines, an average West End theatre is supposed to have a minimum of 36 toilets available for female audience members to use.

However, the average West End theatre only has an average of 21, more than 40 per cent less than is expected.

The study, conducted by entertainment newspaper The Stage, also found that an average West End show’s interval would need to last approximately an hour if all women in the audience were to use the bathroom.

This is three times the length of the standard interval time of 20 minutes, and therefore evidently not feasible.

The Stage investigated 42 theatres in total, all of which are members of the Society of London Theatre.

Five West End theatres owned by theatre group Nimax allegedly refused to take part in the study.

Several people have been discussing the shortage of women’s toilets in theatres following the release of The Stage’s research.

“The lack of women’s loos at the theatre is not just an inconvenience, it’s an access issue,” theatre critic Natasha Tripney tweeted.

“If you’re pregnant, having your period or have health issues, these things matter.”

Some people pointed out that this issue is one that most women will likely already be aware of.

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“This is literally what every queue for the women’s loo looks like and you needed a survey?” one person remarked.

In June 2017, theatre operator Sir Howard Panter commented on the need for more women's bathroom facilities in theatres, describing the current state of them as a "complete disgrace".

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