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Theatres called on to recruit younger and more diverse boards

Roundhouse artistic director and chief executive Marcus Davey. Photo: Jonathan Birch Roundhouse artistic director and chief executive Marcus Davey. Photo: Jonathan Birch
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The Roundhouse has published a guide to help arts organisations better include young people on their boards and in their decision-making processes.

The north London arts organisation has called on others to make their boards more representative of the audiences they want to attract.

It follows a recent report by the Charity Commission regulator, which found that the average age of trustees in England and Wales is between 55 and 64 years old, 92% are white, and men outnumber women two to one.

The Charity Commission said charitable organisations, which many theatres are, should be doing more to encourage applications from women, young people and people from diverse backgrounds.

In collaboration with Arts Council England, the Roundhouse has published a document called Guided by Young Voices, which is aimed at chairs, chief executives and board members, and highlights the benefits of bringing in young people as trustees.

The Roundhouse has been recruiting young trustees to its board annually since 2005.

Roundhouse artistic director and chief executive Marcus Davey said he believed that any cultural organisation wishing to “foster progressive attitudes and remain relevant” must include young people in its decision-making.

“This applies right up to the top of the organisation. Put simply, your board of trustees should be representative of the people you serve. If your audience includes young people, then your board should too,” said Davey.

The guidelines cover areas such as making the case for young people to existing board members and preparing the board for change – including legal responsibilities.

The document also includes tips on recruiting young board members, including making the opportunity attractive, what to look for, how to manage the process and how to support young people once they are appointed.

It also includes case studies from organisations that already involve young people in their decision-making.

ACE chief executive Darren Henley has written the foreword to the guide, in which he says that having young trustees is a “winning move” for organisations that want to build genuine links with younger audiences.

“It gives them a place at the top table. And, very importantly, having their voice at that level can reinvigorate governance, challenging received wisdoms and assumptions.”

Find out more about the guide here

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