Our ‘hideously white’ theatre
UK theatre is “hideously white”, according to a report published today for the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation, with BAME performers the victims of unconscious biase and habitually overlooked for roles in favour of white actors.
The report, Centre Stage, finds that
+ Lack of representation on stage leads to a vicious cycle of BAME students feeling that the stage is “not for them”
+ A crucial barrier to pursuing training for BAME students is financial
+ Diversity needs to be addressed on and off-stage and at all levels – from the commissioning of writers to production staff to those in leadership roles
+ Youth drama groups and outreach initiatives run by arts organisations can play a vital role, but often those who need them most don’t access or even hear about them
+ There is a disparity between the desire of the theatre sector for change and the lack of practical implementation to make the change happen
+ Early training and exposure to theatre is vital, but drama teaching, theatre visits and resources in state schools are under threat
The report calls for drama schools to self-impose a target of 50% of places being subsidised to enable poorer talents, often in the BAME sector, to be able to take advantage; for organisations such as the Arts Council enable information about available resources to properly circulated; for directors and producers to take a lead in making workforces more diverse; and for philanthropists to make cultural diversity a criterion for funding.
“I passionately believe that the stage needs to reflect the diversity of the UK population or it risks becoming side-lined” Lord Lloyd Webber said. “We are asking arts sector bodies, drama schools, theatre producers, actors, creative teams and philanthropists to take responsibility and specific action.”