Gloria De Piero MP and Tracy Brabin MP have been asked by Tom Watson, Labour’s Shadow Culture, Media and Sport Secretary, to lead an inquiry into working class representation in the performing arts.
The inquiry will look into the underrepresentation of working class men and women in the performing arts, with the first stage of the inquiry looking primarily at film, TV, theatre and visual arts. It will investigate representation in ‘on-screen’ and ‘on stage’ roles as well as representation in off-screen and backstage roles, including writers, technicians, producers, directors, designers and more.
As well as seeking evidence by written, video and oral submissions, the inquiry will hold a number of evidence sessions both inside and outside Parliament. It will conclude and report back in the summer of 2017 and recommend policy solutions, based on our findings, to improve access to the performing arts.
Facts about working class representation in the arts
- Last year, research by the London School of Economics and Goldsmiths University found that 73% of actors were from middle-class backgrounds, just 10% of actors said their parents were from manual working-class backgrounds
- In February 2016 the social mobility think tank the Sutton Trust found that 42% of British Bafta winners went to a fee-paying school
- The music industry suffers from similar problems but the Sutton Trust also found that top British actors were twice as likely to have been educated at private schools as award winning British pop artists.
Voices from across the industry have raised concerns recently that it is becoming more difficult for working class people to break into and sustain careers in the arts.
Among many issues they point to are poor facilities and a lack of encouragement at school; the difficulty and costs of getting into drama school; the high costs of living in places like London while trying to break into the arts; the low and precarious pay and increasing demands for free work; lack of roles for working class actors and writers.
Have your say
We want to hear from a wide range of interested parties. If you would like to respond or invite the commissioners to visit a relevant organisation or programme please do so here:
The deadline for submissions is the end of March 2017. We welcome submissions of various forms including video and voice recordings.
We’re especially interested in responses to the questions in the link - but please don’t feel you have to answer all of these questions, and if there are other points you wish to make which don’t fall under these headings then please make them.
We welcome submissions of all perspectives from across the industry. Please send an email with submissions or any other enquiries to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keep up to date
If you'd like to be kept up-to-date on the work of the commission and relevant news, sign-up for updates below.