Arts Council England announced that they are going to start reducing funding for theatre companies that fail to produce a diverse season.
Peter Bazalgette points out that the job of producing diverse has fallen completely on the shoulders of companies whose mission revolves around diversifying. The new policy is making the statement that all companies need to share this responsibility. This is wiping away the preconceived notion that works from minority writers are like specialty work. They are viewed as work that is only made for a specific audience used at a specific time. That belief leads theaters to doing only a single play from a single minority group (whether it be gender identity, race, or sexual identity) a season and believing that is sufficient. This new policy is working to take away the tokenism that occurs with major theater’s seasons.
This new demand does feel weird, however. It feels as though these fundings are being dangled in front of companies’ heads while making them dance for the reward. Questions and concerns rise to my head, like, how far does this go? What happens when this is the relationship between all funders and artistic groups? What happens when money is being held over people’s heads due to personal preference instead of what is best for the company?
I think the concern is valid, however, this is not that. This is addressing a larger issue at hand that clearly theaters are unwilling to address on their own. We are passed the time where it is acceptable to have seasons that don’t reflect the diversity of our artists and communities. We need to stop catering to only one type of patron. The benefit is clearly for the greater good, therefore I am on board. Hopefully, this type of relationship won’t spin out of control. I don’t want this to grow into a relationship where money is able to manipulate the artistic intentions of a company. However, let’s look at it case by case instead of making a general refuting. This case, specifically, is for the better.