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Yorkshire theatres unite in scheme to diversify theatre boards

Scarborough's Stephen Joseph Theatre, Leeds Playhouse and Hull Truck. Photos: James Drawneek/Chris Thornton/Karl Andre Scarborough's Stephen Joseph Theatre, Leeds Playhouse and Hull Truck. Photos: James Drawneek/Chris Thornton/Karl Andre
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Yorkshire-based venues including Hull Truck Theatre and Leeds Playhouse have joined together in a new initiative to improve the diversity of theatre boards.

Artistic Directors of the Future, a programme to encourage future theatre leaders from diverse backgrounds, is behind the ADF Board Shadowing Programme: Yorkshire Edition.

The programme will see 10 members of ADF from a range of culturally diverse backgrounds given access to the boardrooms of five Yorkshire theatres, including Sheffield Theatres, Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre and York Theatre Royal, over the course of four months.

It aims to develop relationships between aspiring trustees from culturally diverse backgrounds and existing board members, and to give the participants insight into the way theatre boards operate.

Participants will also receive theatre tours, free tickets, training and networking opportunities and access to a support hub run by ADF.

A pilot version of the programme was carried out in London in 2017, in partnership with ArtsDepot, the Albany and the Finborough Theatre.

The programme was designed by founder and artistic director of ADF, Simeilia Hodge-Dallaway.

It was created in response to Arts Council England’s 2016 data report: Equality, Diversity and the Creative Case, which evidenced the lack of BAME representation in board leadership.

Hodge-Dallaway said: “At ADF, we recognise that trustees have the ultimate responsibility to recruit and appoint the artistic directors and leaders of their organisations.

“There are disproportionately few culturally diverse representatives on the boards of theatres in the UK, which not only fails to reflect the multicultural society that we live in, but I also believe it hampers the appointment of more culturally diverse leaders of those organisations.”

The Yorkshire edition of the programme begins in December 2018, with board shadowing placements starting from January through to March 2019.

ADF has began the process of building a London consortium to provide members with further board shadowing opportunities.

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