Creatives including artistic director Lynette Linton, designer Sadeysa Greenaway-Bailey and producer Tobi Kyeremateng have argued theatre still has “a long way to go” in terms of offstage diversity.
Greenaway-Bailey urged the industry to look to other sectors such as fashion, music and carnival to bring in new creative talent.
Speaking at the inaugural Black British Theatre Awards, Bush Theatre artistic director Linton told The Stage: “I’m really interested in pushing diversity, not just on stage, not just for directors and writers, but also in our technical areas. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
Linton, who picked up the best director prize for Sweat, argued that arts education in schools plays an integral role in introducing young people from a diverse range of backgrounds to the possibility of a career in theatre.
She added: “There’s so many cuts at the minute, so how are we making sure students know that there are careers in the arts and that theatre is for them.”
Greenaway-Bailey, winner of the set design recognition award, told The Stage: “Theatre could be a lot more openminded in general to different art forms – so for sound, why not look to the music industry, or people who do gigs. In terms of costume, why not look to fashion or carnival?
“Theatre could be a lot more broadminded in terms of who it is that can do the job, and look at the individual and their drive rather than just their curriculum vitae.”
She added: “There’s a way to go when it comes to creatives, and I say that across the board to include producers.”
Best producer winner Kyeremateng, who won for Babylon Festival at the Bush and also founded the Black Ticket Project, echoed these comments, adding: “We’ve still got a long way to go.
“We obsess a lot with face value representation, but I think actually the people who are helping create the work, whether that’s your producers or stage managers, they all need to be diverse as well to really support the authenticity of the piece.”
The Black British Theatre Awards took place in London on October 27.