There has been an "abysmal" lack of diversity in the mainstream theatre presented online during the coronavirus pandemic, the organisers of the Black British Theatre Awards have argued.
Both the existing recordings and the newly created work shared during lockdown is failing to include minority ethnic talent and could set the industry back when it comes to improving diversity, they said.
Omar F Okai, who is co-director and founder of the awards, said: "This pandemic, in its negativity but in a really good way, has highlighted the problem.
"[...] I’ve looked at theatre online and I noticed the lack of diversity in what they’re streaming.
"What’s been interesting online [is that] the diversity - I’ll put it honestly here - is slightly abysmal."
Okai added: "Even the TV stuff that’s been created by people in their houses has lacked complete diversity."
The writer, director and choreographer was speaking at a press launch for the 2020 Black British Theatre Awards, which celebrate black performers and creative talent in British theatre.
Okai argued it is more important than ever to go ahead with the Black British Theatre Awards this year.
He added: "I’ve looked at social media pages, looking back at theatre and photographs of all these shows [over the past year], and the lack of diversity was so stark to me it took my breath away."
Principal of Urdang Academy Solange Urdang, who is also co-director and founder of the awards, raised concerns that coronavirus could put the industry a step back in terms of diversity.
She said: "I would say a year ago, when [the awards] started, we were seeing change in the West End, if you compare it to 10 years ago, and my concern is that it will go backwards.
"And also when the theatres reopen, what’s going to happen then? Where do we start with diversity when we reopen the West End?"
She added: "I am concerned. It was moving forward and I don’t know if it will continue to do so, or whether there will be a gap before everyone reconnects with theatre again."