Drama schools failing BAME students

A new report from the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation has found that drama schools in the UK are not taking in enough Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) students. As a result, there is a shortage of BAME actors across the board in both theatre and musical theatre.

Research for the report was carried out by writer and publishing analyst Danuta Kean and creative consultant Mel Larsen. Kean and Larsen interviewed more than 60 theatre professionals including drama students, teachers, actors and directors.

A key finding was that financial barriers mean many BAME students cannot afford drama tuition – a problem that is being exacerbated by cuts in state school drama departments. To combat this, the report proposes that drama schools should subsidise 50 per cent of places.

The report also found that the lack of BAME representation on stage leads to a vicious cycle, where BAME students and their parents feel the stage is ‘not for them’. It says arts sector bodies, philanthropists and arts leaders must make diversity a top priority in order to break this cycle.

‘It will take action from everyone to effect significant change,’said Lloyd Webber. ‘We are asking arts sector bodies, drama schools, theatre producers, actors, creative teams and philanthropists to take responsibility and specific action. I urge you all to read the recommendations and get involved.’