Line of Duty actor Vicky McClure is among industry figures backing a new network set up to address working-class representation in the entertainment industry.
The purpose of the nationwide Class Network, led by Equity, will be to allow actors and creatives to meet and discuss concerns and to organise campaigns.
McClure said: “Equity’s Class Network is recognising the set backs that occur when trying to sustain a place in the industry coming from a working-class background. We must ensure there is a fair chance for everyone.”
Actor Julie Hesmondhalgh has also voiced her support for the group, arguing that working-class artists are “massively underrepresented” in the sector.
She said: “There is rightly much discussion at the moment around better representation across the industry; it feels as though there is an energy and a will to improve access for women, people of different ethnicities, people with disabilities and trans artists.
“This is a wonderful shift, but until we start to address these issues intersectionally and recognise that working-class artists across all groups are so massively under-represented […] we will be denying a huge swathe of our population the chance to tell their stories through art and culture.”
Set up by Equity members including North Area Councillor Stephanie Greer, the network was officially launched at an event in Liverpool on May 7.
According to Greer, the first steps of the group are to feed into the Performers’ Alliance All Party Parliamentary Group’s inquiry into social mobility in the arts, after which the network will discuss the main issues it will campaign on.
Greer said: “We want to listen to members’ concerns and work on solutions. It’s not about being given preferential treatment. We just want to be treated fairly – to have the same opportunity to prove ourselves as our wealthy counterparts do.”
Paul Fleming, who is one of the Equity staff members behind the initiative, added: “By being a new point of access to the union’s democratic structures, as well as a dynamic place to campaign for working-class artists, this exciting, grassroots initiative will keep and grow the voice of working class members at the heart of Equity’s work.”