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Equity launches the Change Network to support black actors

Emmanuel Kojo spoke at the launch of the Change Network. Photo: Pamela Raith
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A network for black performers to raise issues that affect them at work has been established by Equity.

The Change Network is part of a bid by the union to ensure that it champions black voices, and is Equity’s first project dedicated to black members.

Equity said that by understanding the problems experienced by the black actors and stage managers it represents, its organisers can work to address them in Equity contracts and push for change in industrial agreements.

The Change Network marks the first time one of the union’s networks has brought together individuals from all stages of their career and from different specialisms.

At its launch day last month, talks were delivered by Young Vic artistic director Kwame Kwei-Armah and actor Emmanuel Kojo, who is also an Equity councillor.

Another network event is planned for the autumn, and the initiative is intended to provide a space for black members to discuss concerns relevant to them as well as offering the opportunity for individuals to connect with each other.

Equity said it also wanted to encourage black members to play an active role in the union and its equalities work, and has asked for suggestions on what the network’s priorities should be.

In the latest issue of Equity’s magazine, equality and diversity organiser Ian Manborde said it was wrong to assume that racism is no longer a problem in the industry, highlighting the incident in which Daily Mail critic Quentin Letts was accused of displaying a “blatantly racist attitude” towards actor Leo Wringer in a review.

RSC accuses Daily Mail critic of ‘racist attitude’

He said: “This is a prominent member of our union, and a well respected, classically-trained actor, working in a Royal Shakespeare Company production. If he is subject to these remarks, who will be safe from them?”

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