Lords committee’s concerns about theatre talent
A future government needs to look at ways to develop and maintain the flowm of talent into UK theatre, says a House of Lords Committee.
The Lords Communications Committee has published evidence presented to its inquiry Skills for theatre: Developing the pipeline of talent, which shows that theatre practitioners were worried about a series of threats to the development of talent in the industry. They include the impact of education policies, poor careers advice and training routes and a ‘class bias’ which led to under-representation of less affluent groups and ethnic minorities.
The report identifies five key issues:
- Witnesses felt that the emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) could be having a detrimental effect on the status of arts subjects in state schools.
- Witnesses told that the Committee that better career advice was needed in schools to make children aware of opportunities in the theatre.
- Witnesses maintained that there is little understanding of the full range of jobs in the theatre sector, with inadequate training routes in some technical areas like lighting, wardrobe and carpentry, and some administrative areas like theatre management, accountancy and fundraising.
- Witnesses drew attention to the number of performers, directors and writers from more affluent backgrounds and the corresponding underrepresentation of those from BAME communities, despite impressive outreach work by the sector, particularly the publicly funded theatre.
- Witnesses were especially concerned for the future funding for the theatre, particularly as a result of cuts by many local authorities.
Committee chairman Lord Best said that the committee had been unable to complete its proceedings before the dissolution of Parliament but he hoped that ‘the Government—and all those concerned with the theatre—will give careful consideration to the issues raised with us.’
He added, “The UK theatre is a hugely positive part of our social and cultural life, as well as contributing significantly to the nation's economy. It is rightly hailed as a great success story: it showcases the country's creative talent; it is often the starting point for careers in film and television; and it is an important element in the UK's soft power.”