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Phyllida Lloyd: ‘Arts Council should stop funding companies that aren’t gender-equal’

Phyllida Lloyd with her prize at the Southbank Centre's Women in the Creative Industries Awards. Photo: Alice Boagey Phyllida Lloyd with her prize at the Southbank Centre's Women in the Creative Industries Awards. Photo: Alice Boagey
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Phyllida Lloyd has called on the Arts Council to refuse funding for theatre companies unless they commit to gender equality on and off stage.

The director made the demand of Arts Council England chair Nicholas Serota to fund only companies that “truly reflect the world around them”.

“There must from now on be 50:50 employment of men and women on stage, off stage and in the board room, plus equal pay for equal work,” she said.

Accepting an accolade at the Women in the Creative Industries Awards in London for her all-female Shakespeare productions, Lloyd spoke on behalf of “the hundreds of women, many of whom are in prison, who helped build the Donmar Shakespeare trilogy”.

Lloyd continued: “If you believe that how you do your work is as influential as the work you do then a theatre rehearsal, which is a microcosm of the world, is the perfect place to model social change, because if it doesn’t work this time you can try again on the next production.

“So let theatre, and all our [creative] industries represented today be at the vanguard of world change.”

As part of its Creative Case for Diversity initiative, the Arts Council has already committed to making the improvement of diversity in all forms a condition of regular funding, requiring its regularly funded organisations to submit staff data as well as draw up development plans for the future.

However, the Arts Council’s most recent monitoring report found that action plans were failing to deliver sufficient change, and that staff from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, workers with a disability and, in some roles, women, were still significantly under-represented.

BAME and disabled staff still ‘significantly underrepresented’ in theatre – Arts Council report

Responding to Lloyd’s comments, an Arts Council spokeswoman said: “Diversity is at the very heart of our ambitions but creating inflexible quotas aren’t helpful. The focus of the Creative Case for Diversity is about encouraging all our funded organisations to embed diversity throughout their work including audience development, workforce and leadership.”

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