ENYAN Class crisis in the arts must be cracked says Labour report

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.

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