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Campaign group calls on Equity to ‘step up’ to improve working-class representation

Actor Awareness founder Tom Stocks (right) with Maxine Peake Actor Awareness founder Tom Stocks (right) with Maxine Peake
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Equity is being urged to “take a step up” and do more to improve working-class representation in theatre.

Tom Stocks of campaign group Actor Awareness has called on the union to form a committee on class to increase opportunities for working-class actors. It is also being urged to tackle uneven audition fees for drama schools.

Speaking on a panel at Equity’s Annual Representative Conference, he said: “I understand that all different committees need to put forward different motions, however get a class committee and we’ll do it for you, we’ll fight the class things.

“I believe Equity needs to take a step up in terms of fighting for working-class talent across the industry, and tackle those drama school fees.”

He added: “On May 25, 2016, Equity published in The Stage that it would tackle drama school fees. We are now two years on and that has not happened.

“I understand maybe you can’t abolish them, but why does one drama school charge £80 and one charge £30,”

Stocks called for a flat rate – of about £30 – across all schools and said those auditioning should get a full day’s workshop and feedback.

Commenting on the relatively low number of people who attended the panel on class, which took place during the conference’s lunch period, he added: “I find it ironic that we are here to talk about class, and this room was full half an hour ago, and look what we are now.”

A spokesman from Equity said: “Tom was invited to speak on a panel about class in the entertainment industry at Equity’s annual conference. This followed discussions with him involving the film Acting Class, which the union helped promote to its networks.

“Equity understands Tom’s frustrations on this subject. How the union can better represent working class people was raised in speeches by both president Malcolm Sinclair and general secretary Christine Payne at the conference. This is an issue firmly on the union’s agenda.”

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