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University Women in the Arts scheme offers mentoring to 15 students

Vicky Featherstone. Photo: Mark Hamilton

A lifestyle blogger and the head of Oxford University Dramatic Society are among 15 female students to be mentored by leading creative women in an attempt to get more women working in the arts.

The University Women in the Arts scheme [1] will see mentors including Vicky Featherstone, Jude Kelly and Tamara Rojo provide advice and support for women looking to gain a foothold in theatre, music, art or dance.

Organisers hope it will close a gap between the percentage of female arts workers and the number of women who attend arts courses at university.

More than 70% of the students at University of the Arts London are female, which the scheme’s organisers claim is a similar figure for other institutions in the UK.

Despite this, recent figures show only 31% of professional playwrights are women.

Data from Tonic Theatre in 2013 showed almost 60% of graduates from directing courses were female, but women make up just a quarter of all theatre directors.

Blogger Maria Roberts and OUDS president Helena Jackson are two of the 15 winners selected to receive the support, in a list that includes four Oxbridge students, a Rambert dancer and a woman who runs a youth arts engagement charity.

Tonic Theatre director Lucy Kerbel, who helped set up the scheme and will mentor one of the students, said there was “no one silver bullet” to solve the underrepresentation of women in the arts.

But she added the scheme was “a practical way in which some of the imbalances in the trajectories of male and female arts graduates could be addressed”.

She went on: “Young women who are keen to build careers in the arts often have to look harder for role models than their male counterparts.

“Consequently, a programme such as this which connects female students with trailblazing women is hugely valuable because it makes it all the easier for them to visualise themselves in top roles.”

The 15 students selected for the scheme: