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Stage Sight scheme launched in bid to diversify offstage theatre workforce

Lighting designer and Stage Sight founder Prema Mehta
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Chichester Festival Theatre and the Young Vic are among organisations that have signed up to a new initiative aimed at creating an offstage theatre workforce that is “more reflective of modern society”.

Stage Sight will strive to improve representation across all offstage roles – including technical positions and members of the creative team – in terms of class, ethnicity and disability. It will operate a website and a network of organisations.

The project will be overseen by a committee, which includes its founder Prema Mehta along with representatives from UK Theatre and Society of London Theatre, Equity, Arts Council England, Sheffield Theatres, Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and the Young Vic.

Mehta told The Stage: “It was my own experience working as a lighting designer that inspired me to set this up.

“I’ve been looking back at my own experiences, and wondering what could have been done differently. If there’s a younger version of Prema out there, what would help?”

She added: “Ultimately, we need to create an offstage workforce that is reflective of society.

“That includes making sure that there’s black, Asian and minority ethnic representation, enabling people from working-class backgrounds and ensuring there are disabled and deaf people working in the sector. We hope to make that change on a significant scale.”

Theatres and other performing arts organisations will be encouraged to join as members and to commit to practical change in the areas of recruitment, reaching out to raise awareness of offstage roles and creating new pathways into the industry.

Organisations wishing to join must commit to appointing a single contact for recruitment enquiries, sharing learning with Stage Sight peers and ensuring their pay rates meet the minimums set out in in SOLT, UK Theatre and ITC agreements with in SOLT, UK Theatre and Independent Theatre Council agreements with the relevant unions .

Stage Sight aims to create a large network of people and organisations. It is planning for its website to be a platform for sharing ideas for best practice and initiatives to improve representation.

It will also include a forum to allow members to discuss ideas as well as other resources, such as a list of member projects.

Organisations that have already committed to being members of Stage Sight include Disney Theatrical Group, Chichester Festival Theatre, the Young Vic in London, Mercury Theatre Colchester, English Touring Theatre, Hull Truck Theatre and the Association of British Theatre Technicians.

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