Government disability champion vows to fight discrimination in theatre
The government’s new disability champion for the arts has revealed his plans to improve the “dismal” under-representation of disabled workers in theatre.
Andrew Miller was given the newly-created role, which aims to tackle the issues faced by disabled people in the arts, by the minister for disabled people, health and work in February.
He is one of several disability champions appointed by the government across various industries.
Speaking at UK Theatre and the Society of London Theatre’s Theatre and Touring Symposium in London, Miller outlined his plans for the role.
These include working with apprenticeship providers and higher education institutions such as LAMDA to improve access to training for disabled artists and creatives and to meet an “industry demand” for disabled talent.
Miller also vowed to tackle the “dismal disability workforce statistics” by promoting a more positive workplace culture and encouraging theatres to change their recruitment practices.
Arts Council England’s most recent diversity monitoring report found just 4% of staff among its national portfolio organisations identified as disabled. This is compared to 20% of the working age population in total.
He said: “These priorities are shaped by my own experience of the creative industries over 30 years.
“Often, a disabled individual has few support mechanisms, faces frequent discrimination, and has no role models.”
In his role as disability champion, Miller will also offer a voice for disabled audience members. He is calling on the Arts Council to undertake an audit on disabled access to theatres across the UK to “establish the scale of the issue and inform future capital spend”.
Other plans include establishing a single national online ticket booking scheme for disabled customers, who often have to book their theatre tickets over the phone to secure accessible seats.
Miller also plans to create a disability arts charter that outlines best practice for arts organisations across a range of areas including training and employment.