• Share on Facebook
  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Linkedin
  • Share by email
  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Linkedin
  • Share by email

Report exploring the lack of sustainable pathways into producing for British theatre producers from the global majority uncovers a racial pay gap of 20%.


Evgeniy Shkolenko/iStock

New research by The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and Tara Theatre has found a racial pay gap in theatre producing of 20%.

The research, published today (11 June), surveyed 187 theatre producers working in England between April and July last year. The findings report a median income for producers categorised as being of global majority heritage of between £20,001 and £25,000, compared with a median income of white producers between £25,001 and £30,000. 

The report says this is somewhat lower than the nationally calculated median ethnicity pay gap for 2021/22, which was 27.3%.


The research also explores the career development and training opportunities available to British theatre workers and concluded the theatre sector remains disproportionately white and dominated by people from middle-class backgrounds. “In this context, findings show some of the ways in which the institutional norms of the theatre sector perpetuate structural racism,” the report says.

“Our report offers a detailed analysis of what any racially minoritised theatre worker will tell you: that racism is baked into the structures and practices that keep the sector going,” said Tom Six, Reader in Politics and Performance at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and one of the report’s authors.

Rafia Hussain, an independent producer and another of the report’s authors, said the research mirrors many of her experiences of the sector: “It’s clear that we must prioritise fairer recruitment practices, improve working conditions and increase the visibility of the role to improve the sector and ensure that producing becomes a more accessible and sustainable career.” 

Low pay

The median pay of all respondents surveyed was between £20,000 and £25,000, significantly lower than both the median pay for all UK workers in April 2023 (£29,895) and that of full time employees (£35,448).

Almost a quarter (24%) of respondents earned under £10,000 in the financial year before the survey. These respondents reported having to combine producing with other sources of income.

Meanwhile, all respondents said they had experience of unpaid work, with 81% saying they had worked without pay at some point in their career and the remaining 19% had either done an unpaid internship or not been paid for all their hours in the last month. Interviewees suggested that unpaid periods of work were common ahead of funding being secured.

More than two thirds (68%) of all respondents said their level of pay had been a barrier in their career. The report concludes that career development for producers - and particularly those of global majority heritage - cannot succeed without addressing levels of pay and working conditions.

Independent body

The report’s key recommendation is that an independent body is established to provide training, mentoring, networking and peer-support opportunities for producers.

It should also work to develop paid pathways into producing.

“A high proportion of which should be designated for people of global majority heritage who would otherwise not be able to access a career in theatre producing,” the report says.

The researchers say the body should be underpinned by a methodology focused on addressing structural and systemic racism, funded and led independently and support a diverse network of theatres and producing companies, with particular attention to small and medium-sized companies and those with a remit to support a racially minoritised theatre-makers and audiences.

“Even as we increase diversity on our stages, the ecology of the industry in its entirety matters. It matters when work is being commissioned and promoted to audiences, and it impacts on who feels welcome in our spaces - and who does not,” said Josette Bushell-Mingo, The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama’s Principal.

“Representation matters. To truly make change in our industry, we need more Black and Global Majority, female, non-binary and trans, working class and disabled artists in leadership positions - as well as in leading roles.”