Equity has come out in support of 40 Welsh theatremakers who criticised National Theatre Wales for failing to support homegrown talent.
The union said its members had reported concerns over the “theatrical output and ethos” of the company under its current leadership.
Kully Thiarai took over as artistic director in 2016 from the company’s founder John McGrath.
The letter, sent to NTW by playwrights and theatremakers including Gary Owen last month, said: “The direction of NTW, coupled with a lack of scrutiny, transparency and openness has led to a worrying internal culture, which, despite the organisation’s name, seems to take pride in ridding itself of a theatrical identity and even its nationality.”
In a statement, Equity said it supported the open letter, and that concerns had been raised at its National Committee.
According to the union, the company’s artistic programme “seems to be moving away from the theatre’s stated aims” to include a predominance of non-Welsh artists and stories.
“Alongside this, Equity has noticed a drop in the number of employment opportunities being offered not only within individual productions, but also across the year due to the number of performances scheduled,” Equity said.
The union also said it welcomed the opportunity for its Welsh members, of which it has around 1,600, to engage in a debate about cultural identity and “what kind of national theatre Wales deserves”.
Equity’s national organiser for Wales, Simon Curtis, said: “Now is the time for transparency and accountability across the whole of the creative industries in Wales.”
“We fully back the sentiments of the open letter to National Theatre Wales and look forward to being part of the ongoing debate around the issues raised in the open letter,” he continued, adding that there should be more clarity around the benefits of public funding to its Welsh members.
National Theatre Wales initially disputed some of the comments in the letter, claiming they were factually incorrect.
A statement in response to Equity’s backing said: “We have read Equity’s statement in support of the recent open letter to our chair. We are making plans to meet with the signatories of the letter, and look forward to an open and constructive conversation with them.”
Support has also come from the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain, which issued a public backing of the letter.
William Gwyn, chair of the Writers’ Guild’s Welsh branch, said: ““We believe that this dissatisfaction with NTW is a further example of a growing concern among Welsh writers that representation across the media of Welsh cultural identity appears to be under threat.
“The letter to NTW is further proof, if proof be needed, that it’s high time for a national debate in Wales about cultural identity and how it is portrayed in our theatres, on our television screens and in our cinemas.”