British theatre is called to “completely rebuild” to improve diversity as pandemic gives opportunity for change

  • Written by Leah Mahon
  • Published on 12th March 2021
DIVERSITY: Gabrielle Brooks (pictured right) is calling for more black representation in the UK theatre industry (Image by Tristram Kenton)
  • The British Theatre industry has been criticised for the lack of diversity within the industry. Gabrielle Brookes, an actress in the upcoming Netflix show “Shadow and Bone”, shares that the lack of representation of black actors/actresses on the British theatre stage has made her feel isolated and think that this industry has not progressed at all. Brookes founded BlackStage UK, an initiative which addresses racial inequalities in the Arts industry. Brookes comments that this is an opportunity to make British theatre more accessible for people from ethnic minorities who have felt excluded in the past.
  • In a study by the Arts Council England (ACE), they found that people of colour are less likely to attend theatre performance due to high prices, lack of time and fear of feeling out of place. Also, ACE found that only 5% of theatre employees in London are from BME communities. Despite the population of London from ethnic minorities being over 40%, there continues to be a significant lack of diversity in the theatre industry.
  • Last year, the Black Theatre Collective, made a number of recommendations to the theatre industry to become more accessible to BAME communities. This includes training in the styling of Afro hair and make-up training that ensures that make-up artists are skilled at working with various skin tones. Although this may seem like small actions, they make a huge difference in demonstrating that the industry is adapting to people of colour.
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