Fuelling this were record attendances which passed the 14 million mark for the first time. The new record total of 14,257,922 is up 5.5% on the same period in 2008. For the first time ever, total box office receipts for plays, musicals, opera, and dance in London theatres for 2009 were £504,765,690, a 7.6% rise over 2008. It was the 7th consecutive year that new attendance and revenue records have been set, but the size of the increases were stunning because of the worldwide economic recession. Plays in particular had a spectacular year with total attendances of 3,637,714, up 26% from 2008 — “proving that audiences respond to challenge and stimulation as well as toe-tapping entertainment,” said Nica Burns, President of the Society of London Theatre. Opera, dance and entertainments were up 7%. Musicals were down 2% for the year, slumping in the early months of 2009 but up 4% in the final quarter.