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Netflix and Amazon should fund bursaries to support emerging acting talent, union hears

Members have argued that Netflix and Amazon should fund bursaries. Photo: Shutterstock Members have argued that Netflix and Amazon should fund bursaries. Photo: Shutterstock
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TV and film giants Netflix and Amazon are being called upon to fund performing arts bursaries for young people from low-income backgrounds, as a way of tackling the “alarming decrease” of working-class talent.

Delegates at this year’s Equity Annual Representative Conference voted for the union to begin a dialogue with TV and film producers such as Netflix, Amazon and other broadcasters to provide financial support for students from less-affluent backgrounds.

Equity councillor Jean Rogers, who proposed the motion on behalf of the Brighton and Sussex General Branch, cited a deal struck with the BBC in 2006 around its musical theatre talent shows, which agreed to give fees paid by phone votes to theatre training bursaries.

She said: “This is a way for broadcasters to pay back into the grassroots whence the talent they benefit from comes.”

She said setting up new maintenance grants, similar to those created by the BBC from its phone voting fees, would “help new talent emerge instead of withering on the vine through lack of monetary support”.

Drama school tuition fees also came under fire from members of Equity, which, as part of the same motion, voted to campaign against restrictive costs that are starving the industry of diverse talent.

Seconding the motion Mjka-Anne Scott described poverty as “pernicious”, taking away the choices and hopes of young people whose financial backgrounds prevent them from accessing training.

“We can do something about this. We can start to investigate, see what we can do and find out how we can help,” Scott said.

For more coverage of the Equity Annual Representative Conference 2018, click here.

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