A strategy which aims to combat racism in theatre and develop opportunities for Black, Asian and Chinese artists and arts professionals to work in English theatres has been published by the Arts Council of England. Entitled ?The Eclipse Report?, the strategy specifically sets out to develop the number and seniority of staff from culturally diverse communities and the programming of work created by Black, Asian and Chinese practitioners in regional theatres. It also addresses issues of governance, professional development and audience development.
Specific recommendations include:
? The development and monitoring of Equal Opportunities policies and Positive Action plans for theatres receiving public money
? The provision of appropriate training for board members, senior managers and staff
? The sharing of information across the sector, including a database of Black, Asian and Chinese artists and a greater awareness of the range of culturally diverse work available
? The development of awareness of the legal responsibilities of the new amendments to the Race Relations Act 2000
? The development of further research on the numbers of Black, Asian and Chinese actors and theatre staff, and their professional aspirations.
Regional seminars are planned across the country during 2002 to bring together the senior managers and board members of regional theatres to discuss the implementation of the recommendations.
The report stems from a collaboration between the Arts Council of England, the Theatrical Management Association, East Midlands Arts and Nottingham Playhouse, and has the backing of the wider theatre sector. Its key recommendations were developed following two one-day conferences at Nottingham Playhouse in the summer of 2001.ACE statistics for 1998/99 showed poor representation of Black, Asian and Chinese people on the boards and staff of English theatres. In the light of these figures, and also of the findings published in the Macpherson Report in 1999, the Eclipse conference started from the premise that institutional racism exists within the theatre sector. Felix Cross, Director of Black theatre company NITRO, and arts practitioner, said ?In the last ten years or so I have attended countless conferences on race or racism in the theatre. By and large they have all achieved very little; so why is Eclipse different? Well, it has the drive and backing of the country?s principal arts funder, and the Arts Council is determined not to merely make recommendations but to see them carried through.?
The Eclipse Report is available on the ACE website at http://www.artscouncil.org.uk, or in hard copy from Natasha Bucknor t: 020 7973 6482.