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Wales Theatre Awards cancelled following diversity row

Scene from The Golden Dragon at Sherman Theatre, Cardiff. Photo: Clive Barda

The Wales Theatre Awards have been cancelled permanently, following a row over diversity earlier this year.

The move comes after an open letter with more than 40 signatories [1] criticised the nominations list for the 2018 awards [2] for a “lack of diversity”.

In particular, the letter condemned multiple nominations for “white-actors playing non-white roles”, arguing that the “challenges of representation should be dealt with intelligently”.

Following the letter, members of National Theatre Wales boycotted the 2018 ceremony [3], which took place in Newport on January 27.

The next awards were due to take place at the Blackwood Miners’ Institute on February 2, 2019. The shortlist for the awards had not yet been announced.

A statement published on the Wales Theatre Awards website on November 24 said: “Wales Theatre Awards 2019 has been cancelled and the annual awards have come to an end.”

Organiser Mike Smith claimed that the awards had faced hostility online.

He told The Stage: “While we have been urged to continue the awards as a crucial part of the celebration of excellence in performance in Wales and also as a meeting of Welsh and English language theatre, dance and opera, we cannot continue when there are those who, it would appear, wish to work to destroy rather than enhance this unique celebration or artistic creation and the role of criticism in our nation.”

The awards recognised excellence in professional theatre, opera and dance which had been created and performed in Wales in both English and Welsh.

Nominations were made by critics, with judges in dance, opera, English theatre and Welsh theatre choosing the shortlists and the winners.