English theatres act to tackle culture of exclusion

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 major study between 1988-1999 which found that only one
in 23 of theatre staff and 16 out of 440 board members came from an ethnic
minority background.

The
figures prompted a series of conferences investigating the sector.

Peter
Hewitt, chief executive of the Arts Council said the findings would lead to a
major drive for more diversity:

“The
imperative to conquer institutional racism and to embrace the diversity of the
world’s culture 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.

By Ross Wigham

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