During the nineteenth century, British theatre developed into an industry with considerable importance in the economy, diversified by whole new forms of entertainment - first music hall then cinema - evolving alongside the dramatic stage. This comprehensive study examines the theatre's growth from an economic perspective. Tracy Davis reflects the debates of economic theorists from Adam Smith to Alfred Marshall to investigate three key areas: the state's role in protecting theatre; the factors affecting the success or failure of theatre companies; and how theatre came to be regarded as one of the 'service industries'. By grounding debates about subsidization and the economic viability of the live arts in an era predating government funding, Davis sheds light on the history of cultural policy for the arts in Britain. Her book will interest scholars across a range of disciplines - theatre, social history, economics, gender studies and the sociology of culture.