Incorporating the Variety Artistes' Federation
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Equity welcomes recommendations of Centre Stage report

1 December 2016

Equity welcomes the recommendations made by the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation in its Centre Stage report.

Unfortunately the issues raised are disappointingly familiar.

The union has campaigned for many years to tackle the under-representation of performers from diverse backgrounds throughout the entertainment industry and recently launched its Play Fair campaign to further promote this work.

The Centre Stage report’s recommendation concerning drama schools offering 50 per cent of places to students from low income backgrounds is supported by Equity and echoes its own work on low incomes through its Professionally Made Professionally Paid campaign, support for creative subjects in schools and opposition to the rise in university tuition fees.

The union agrees with the report’s call for producers, directors and creative teams to “take a lead in encouraging a more culturally diverse workforce”.

Through its Play Fair campaign, Equity argues that the industry needs to adopt ‘incidental casting’, where the actor’s background is incidental to the character. Equity members do not want who they are to limit who they can play. Incidental casting, a central element of the union’s Play Fair campaign, enables the diverse nature of society to be reflected on stage and screen as it encompasses performers from under-represented groups such as deaf and disabled, LGBT+ and women.

While the union welcomes the report’s recommendations, Equity members do not identify with the assertion that roles are unable to be fulfilled by the available BAME talent in the UK. Indeed, it is well documented that BAME performers from the UK are seeking work in the US due to the lack of opportunities at home.

Equity remains committed to working with Andrew Lloyd Webber and producers, casting professionals, schools and other partners in the industry to remove the many barriers our BAME members face in both establishing and sustaining a career.

Progress in this area is hugely overdue.

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