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Nationwide scheme launched to develop diverse theatre leaders

Programme participants, clockwise from top left: Anthony Ekundayo Lennon, Anastasia Osei-Kuffour, Nathan Powell and Kash Arshad
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Participants have been announced for the Artistic Director Leadership Programme, a major new scheme to encourage future theatre leaders from diverse backgrounds across the UK.

The programme consists of two schemes, the first of which is for trainee artistic directors. Four people will receive paid, two-year residential traineeships with theatre companies across the country.

Selected participants include Kash Arshad, who will work with Bradford-based Freedom Studios, and Anthony Ekundayo Lennon, who will work with Talawa in London.

Anastasia Osei-Kuffour has been selected for a placement with theatre company Tiata Fahodzi in Watford, and Nathan Powell will work with theatre company 20 Stories High in Liverpool.

In addition, 26 participants have also been selected for the Leaders of Tomorrow scheme, a bespoke leadership development programme.

The announcement follows the launch of development organisation Artistic Directors of the Future’s project Up Next, through which aspiring black, Asian and minority ethnic arts leaders will take over London theatres for two months.

Meanwhile, the London Theatre Consortium’s fellowship programme, which seeks to improve diversity at leadership level by providing mentoring from major theatres, has also returned for a second year.

The Leaders of Tomorrow scheme involves a range of artists from different professions who may one day want to lead a building – such as producers, actors and writers – and also a lighting designer who wants to instigate change backstage.

Participants in this scheme will form a network and attend a range of workshops let by artistic and executive directors, the Independent Theatre Council and the the artistic directors of Tiata Fahodzi, Freedom Studios, Talawa Theatre Company and 20 Stories High. This will take place in Manchester and London over two years.

Tiata Fahodzi’s artistic director Natalie Ibu, who leads the Artistic Director Leadership Programme, said she wanted these participants to be “the people who apply for executive positions in the future”.

Ibu said: “The first Arts Council report on diversity was published in 1976 – we’ve been talking about the ‘diversity problem’ for longer than I’ve been alive.

“We hope that our programme will mean that we can all stop talking about it and get on with doing it. It’s a real pleasure to bring together 30 of Britain’s most exciting artists and administrators of colour at the beginning of their leadership careers who I know are going to continue to take up space, building an ecology where the next generation of artists of colour can be even more ambitious and not less.”

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