Racism claims lead to theatre shake-up

The English theatre industry is launching a major overhaul of its diversity policies following allegations of institutional racism.

The Eclipse Report, produced by the Arts Council and the Theatrical Management Association, highlighted poor representation of ethnic minorities on theatre boards and among its staff.

The report was based on a study between 1998-99 which found only one in 23 theatre staff came from an ethnic background, and of the 440 board members, only 16 were black.

Peter Hewitt, chief executive of the Arts Council, said the findings would lead to a major drive for better diversity. “The imperative to conquer institutional racism and to embrace the world’s cultures has never been more acute. The Arts Council is currently developing a new diversity project which will be launched later this year,” he said.

The report called for positive action, heightened awareness and recommended more up-to-date research on the number of black, Asian and Chinese personnel in the sector.

The report’s recommendations also included more training for board members and senior staff, the introduction of a database of ethnic actors and more funds for equal opportunities initiatives.

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