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Labour calls for action on 'diversity crisis' in arts

2 min read

Labour has warned that cuts to schools and low pay have contributed to a “class-shaped hole” in the UK’s arts sector. 

A review by Labour MPs Tracy Brabin and Gloria De Piero said the industry was likely to be “increasingly dominated by a narrow set of people from well off backgrounds” unless action was taken.

It called for more government funding for school trips to theatres, a shake-up to end the “systematic marginalisation” of drama teaching in schools, better data collection on diversity in the arts, and an end to drama schools charging up to £100 for auditions.

The MPs also hit out at the low pay on some projects, urging the Arts Council to stop funding programmes that offer “poverty wages” and calling on HMRC to review the sector.

Ms Brabin said: “Our performing arts are some of the best in the world and they should represent our whole nation, not just a privileged section of it.

“But the systematic eradication of arts education in schools, sky-high drama school audition fees, chronic low pay and a lack of diversity behind the scenes are all contributing to a diversity crisis on our stages and screens.”

The review was commissioned by Labour’s deputy leader and Shadow Culture Secretary Tom Watson.

It received more than 100 written submissions from industry representatives and also held oral evidence sessions.

A spokesman for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said: “We are completely committed to ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to take part in arts and culture, including in schools.”

The spokesman also highlighted a £300m government initiative to boost young people’s participation in the arts by 2020. 

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