They may only be digital dancing queens - and kings - but the four glittery avatars performing every night in front of sell out audiences in east London are pumping serious Money, Money, Money into the capital’s economy.
That is the conclusion of a report into the “socio-economic impact” of the ground breaking Abba Voyage attraction in Stratford published on Thursday just a year and a half after it opened.
The analysis, carried out by strategists Sound Diplomacy and social value consultancy RealWorth, found that the series of concerts at the 3,000 seater Abba Arena contributed £322.6 million in spending, and £177.7 million in extra economic activity - known as GVA - in its first year.
The arena was designed by STUFISH Entertainment Architects.
Abba’s shows began in May 2022 at the £50 million purpose built venue in Pudding Mill Lane and generated more than one million ticket sales - at up to £181.50 each - by the end of the year. That made it the sixth most visited paid attraction in London in 2022.
The show feature digital “Abbatar” versions of the Swedish quartet - Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad - performing a setlist of “bangers” such as Mamma Mia, Voulez-Vous and The Winner Takes it All over a 90 minute run time alongside a live 10 piece band.
They were created through motion capture technology from visual effects company Industrial Light & Magic and appear as their 1979 versions of themselves. The band members themselves are now all in their seventies.
The report - commissioned by the show’s producers - found that the show had siginficant benefits for the surrounding boroughs of Newham, Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest with 42% of the total impact felt in these local authority areas worth a total of £73.7 million in GVA.
The bulk of the impact in the local area was from paying for accommodation, food and drink, transport and shopping with an average spend of £103 per attendee on top of the ticket price, rising to £135 across London as a whole.
The report claims ABBA Voyage has supported more than 5,000 jobs in London, including those directly employed at the venue and those in other sectors that rely on spending by visitors.
The report also highlights how Abba Voyage has drawn thousands of visitors from outside London with almost half the non-ticket spend from “out of towners” coming from elsewhere in the UK and more than 40% from foreign visitors.
Michael Bolingbroke, executive producer for ABBA Voyage, said: “The presence of ABBA Voyage is felt in a way that will be enduring. Knowing that in our first full year, the operations of ABBA Voyage has had an economic impact in London of £322 million is extraordinary, and our challenge will be to maintain and grow this number, and to ensure that its effects are long lasting.”
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “The fantastic success of ABBA Voyage shows once again how London is the music capital of the world and is roaring back from the impact of the pandemic. I am so proud that City Hall was able to help ABBA bring this pioneering show to east London, providing huge benefits to both the local area and London’s wider economy.”
Lyn Garner, Chief Executive of the London Legacy Development Corporation, said: “ABBA Voyage has been an amazing success for the area and a vibrant addition to the attractions on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.”