The word “class” is often missing in the debate about access and diversity in the performing arts but the issue needs to be tackled by the government, a Labour party report says.
The opposition held its own inquiry into one of the biggest issues in the UK’s cultural sector: inequality, both in terms of who works in the arts and who gets to see it.
The Acting Up report, published on Thursday, says the performing arts – whether stage, television or film – is “increasingly dominated by a narrow set of people from well-off backgrounds”.
The report is based on two evidence sessions the party held in parliament and more than 100 written submissions.
Among its conclusions and recommendations are:
- A revamp of the English baccalaureate in schools, which the report says “has led to a systematic marginalisation of arts subjects, particularly drama”.
- A call for drama schools to stop charging audition fees of up to £100. “Drama schools are too expensive to apply to and instances of racism and snobbishness inside them are too common.
- A widespread culture of low and no pay in the performing arts holds back “all but the most well-off talent” and needs to be tackled by the government.
- Broadcasters, film companies and theatres need to do more to bring on and develop working-class and diverse talent at all levels.
- Diversity data is “too patchy and often has a big hole where class data should be”. Politicians need to spearhead a move “to recognise socio-economic disadvantage in law” to ensure a framework for better data collection.