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Training course tackling unconscious bias in theatre to launch this year

Former Theatre Royal Stratford East executive director and course leader Deborah-Sawyerr Former Theatre Royal Stratford East executive director and course leader Deborah-Sawyerr
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Theatres across the UK will soon be able to access training to address unconscious bias at work, as part of a drive to create a “more reflective” workforce.

The brainchild of UK Theatre, the one-day training courses, which will begin in the autumn, will be run by former Theatre Royal Stratford East executive director Deborah Sawyerr in partnership with the Centre for Inclusive Leadership.

The course will explore the concept of unconscious bias within the context of working relationships and audiences within theatre. It aims to equip participants with the necessary awareness to “recognise and mitigate their personal unconscious bias”.

Head of UK Theatre Cassie Chadderton told The Stage she believes this is the only unconscious bias training course specifically focused on theatre.

Open to people in any theatre role, including operational positions, human resources, chief executives and artistic directors, the cost of the course will range from £100 to £180 depending on whether or not the organisation is a UK Theatre member.

Birmingham Hippodrome’s chief executive and artistic director, Fiona Allan, who is also president of UK Theatre, announced the training at the Theatre and Touring Symposium 2018, arguing that the industry’s workforce “needs to change and be more reflective of society”.

She said: “When we are still in 2018 coming up with such blatant ignorance as a recent and well discussed Daily Mail review of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Fantastic Follies, in which the critic suggested that the casting of a black actor was a box ticking exercise by the RSC, how can we join together as an industry, commercial and subsidised, to ensure we leave our workforce in a better place than we found it?”

Allan added she had recently taken her own theatre though an unconscious bias training programme.

Chadderton continued: “We have seen the theatre sector’s ambition around improving diversity, and we would like to offer practical support with this.”

She added: “If you are interested in understanding how these issues can inhibit workplace development, then this course is for you.”

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