Diversity initiatives for UK theatres

Diversity and Inclusion Resource Library

Resources for the theatre sector

Our directory of resources is not definitive.

We all need to question what our organisations’ purposes are. If promoting diversity and anti-racism practices are not embedded in our DNA, then what kind of an organisation are we? To quote Angela Davies: ‘It’s not enough to not be racist. You need to be anti-racist.’

Projects followed by an asterisk have either been run, supported financially, or provided with resources and promotion by UK Theatre and Society of London Theatre (SOLT).

We welcome feedback and additional contributions; please email ukt@soltukt.co.uk.

We have produced a report which sets out SOLT and UK Theatre's current initiatives for improving diversity and inclusion within UK theatres. Our 2021-22 Business Plan includes a dedicated diversity and inclusion section, and diversity and inclusion considerations are integrated throughout.

The list below outlines some of our current and past initiatives:   

  • 10 PrinciplesA code of conduct for the sector to promote workplace environments that are positive, inclusive and supportive, and challenge bullying, harassment and discrimination in our industry.
  • Anti-Racism Touring Rider working groupWe have formed a working group to help us consult with our membership on the Anti-Racism Touring Rider and checklist as a practical anti-racist resource for venues, touring companies and producers, and work with the Touring Rider committee on this.
  • Board diversification: In 2021 we made revisions to both the SOLT and UK Theatre Board Articles of Association, to make the structure of the Boards and election processes more inclusive and give us the flexibility to improve diverse representation at future elections. We then set up a working group to address the lack of representation on the UK Theatre Board. A similar process is to follow for the SOLT Board.
  • Demographic monitoring: we are implementing annual demographic audits of the SOLT and UK Theatre Boards and memberships. You can download the 2021 UK Theatre audit results here.
  • Get Into Theatre: we funded this careers advice website for young people for its first two years, and provide ongoing strategic support.
  • Inclusion & Anti-Racism Working Group: this group was formed in response to the issues raised by the Black Lives Matter movement returning to prominence in 2020. Download the Inclusion & Anti-Racism Working Group's Terms of Reference.     
  • Inclusive Recruitment Guide: we have produced a signposting guide to help theatre employers recruit more inclusively.

  • Mousetrap Theatre Projects: we are the principal partner for this charity, providing long-term financial support to enable the running of a wide range of theatre-going programmes and education projects for young people, families, state schools and youth groups.
  • Official London Theatre's access information: we create access resources for London audiences including accessible performance listings and venue information to help plan a visit.
  • Parents and Carers in Performing Arts: we are a strategic partner of PiPA, working with them to further their objectives of promoting best practice employment and support for parents and carers in the performing arts
  • Remote Working Toolkit: we commissioned Parents and Carers in the Performing Arts to create a suite of resources for organisations to identify the potential for remote and mixed model working and provide practical tips for implementation.
  • Safeguarding working group: set up in 2021, this steering group helps shape SOLT and UK Theatre's response to bullying, harassment and discrimination issues within the theatre workforce.
  • Seven Inclusive Principles: We continue to endorse the Seven Principles for an Inclusive Recovery in Arts and Culture and encourage our members to commit.
  • Speak-Listen-Reset-Heal Conference: this anti-racism conference for the UK’s theatre and dance sectors was presented by Inc Arts in partnership with SOLT and UK Theatre. 

  • Stage One: Bridge the Gap: we part-fund this programme which addresses under-representation for those pursuing a career in commercial theatre producing.
  • Stage Sight: SOLT and UK Theatre provided strategic and project management support for 12 months to help launch this network, which aims to create an off stage workforce reflective of society.
  • Theatre Casting Toolkit: we funded and commissioned Tonic to create this practical tool for making meaningful change on our stages.
  • Theatrecraft: we project manage and run the UK’s largest free careers event for anyone aged 16-30 seeking off-stage roles in theatre.
  • Training: we have a variety of free webinar recordings available - please see the 'Training courses run by SOLT and UK Theatre' tab below.
  • UK Theatre Awards: Our annual awards include an Excellence in Inclusivity Award category.

  • Accessible Theatre's Access Co-ordinator Guide: a guide for anyone tasked with organising captioned, audio-described and BSL interpreted performances
  • Audience Diversity Academy: helps you and your organisation build long-term relationships with new audiences   
  • The Audience Friend: connecting theatre with people who either never or rarely consider arts events when making choices for their free time
  • Black Ticket Project: an initiative creating cultural access points for Black young people across England
  • Creating an Accessibility Guide: advice from Visit Britain on producing an accessbility guide to communicate your facilities and services to disabled people and other customers with access needs
  • East Asian Ticket Club: an engagement scheme to encourage and increase East Asian participation across the arts in the UK 
  • Mousetrap Theatre Projects*: running a wide range of theatre-going programmes and education projects for young people, families, state schools and youth groups
  • Official London Theatre's access information*: access resources for London audiences including accessible performance listings and venue information to help plan a visit
  • STAR's Accessible Ticketing Guide: a best practice guide to making ticket sales accessible to disabled customers from the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers
  • Ticketing Without Barriers: led by Attitude is Everything, a coalition of ticketing companies, venues and other organisations working together to remove barriers to ticketing
  • Unlimited's Demystifying Access: a guide for producers and performance makers to help create better access for audiences to the performing arts
  • Act for Change: campaigning for better representation across the live and recorded arts
  • Equity's Guide to Autistic Artists: sets out good practice in working with autistic artists. Produced for casting directors, producers, educational establishments, stage managers and all those who work within the industry
  • Making Self-Tape Auditions Accessible: Equity have produced guidance for Casting Directors
  • Neurodivergent Theatre and 'Light Switch' course: a course to teach you how to better work with and be more inclusive of neurodivergent artists in your practice, and how being more mindful of neurodivergence can improve your practice as an artist
  • ProFile: a video database of 250+ d/Deaf and disabled actors for use by casting directors
  • Theatre Casting Toolkit*: a practical tool for making meaningful change on our stages 
  • Creative Access: helping under-represented communities enter the creative industries and thrive when they get in
  • Get Into Theatre*: careers advice website for young people
  • Inspiring Future Theatre Day*: an annual celebration of the work theatres across the UK do to inspire young people, communities and schools

  • Theatrecraft*: the UK’s largest free careers event for anyone aged 16-30 seeking off-stage roles in theatre
  • Stage One: Bridge the Gap*: addressing under-representation for those pursuing a career in commercial theatre producing
  • Stage Sight*: Initiatives from Stage Sight members who have committed to rebalancing our off-stage workforce
  • Theatre Casting Toolkit*: a practical tool for making meaningful change on our stages and in our rehearsal rooms
  • Theatre Diversity Action Plan*: BECTU's plan includes a guide for employers to give them the ability to identify what can be done in their own theatres. Steps include: carrying out an accurate assessment of the current workforce, setting targets and improving recruitment processes.
  • Training

In relation to the artistic companies listed below, we have focussed on National Portfolio Organisations as a starting point. We have tried to get a good spread of companies from around the country, not just London. We have highlighted Black British theatre, British East Asian theatre and South Asian theatre as they have the largest representation of theatrical work from the last few years. We know there will be more organisations, and more groups, who we can represent.

Researching this list has raised some interesting questions for us: what defines a diverse organisation? Some organisations have specific remits and artistic objectives embedded in their values and mission statement. For example, some are focused on presenting work by Black voices, or presenting traditional East Asian stories. Some organisations take an inclusive approach to reflect the stories of their diverse communities on stage. Some organisations have Black, Asian or ethnically diverse leaders at their helms, and others have diverse workforces (see this Arts Council England guidance on defining ‘diverse led’ organisations).

Black and Black British Theatre and Resources
  • Afridiziak: Afridiziak Theatre news is a website celebrating African-Caribbean theatre
  • Alt A Review: An independent print and digital publication pushing the diversity and inclusion agenda across the arts
  • Bernie Grant Arts CentreTottenham-based arts venue developing culturally diverse artists, and championing Black artists telling their own stories
  • Black Association for Arts: a network of Black writers, artists, academics, filmmakers, musicians, scientists, lawyers, entrepreneurs, theatre-makers, students and professionals who aim to elevate Black creativity through community
  • Black Plays Archive: an online catalogue of the first professional production of every African, Caribbean, and Black British play produced in the U.K   
  • Black plays at the National Theatre 1976-2014: Google Arts & Culture online exhibit   
  • Black Theatre and Performance Collection from the V&A    
  • Black Theatre Live: archive of three year programme of national touring, structural support and audience development
  • Black British Theatre 1950 – 1979 (British Library article)
  • Blackstage UK: A documentary web series centering black voices in the UK Arts and Entertainment industries
  • Eclipse: UK-based black-led touring theatre company    
  • Raising the Bar: 100 Years of Black British Theatre and Screen: Lenny Henry presents a radio series on BBC Sounds
  • Slate World: hosts Eclipse Online, a series of Masterclasses and Socials held on a weekly basis for Black Artists and fellow Artists also marginalised for their race   
  • Talawa Theatre: UK-based black-led touring theatre company
  • Tangle: a touring theatre company championing African and Caribbean artistic excellence
  • The Anti-Racist Social Club: a registered charity that works to create spaces and resources for education and open dialogue with White people and non-Black people of colour about becoming anti-racist allies
  • The New Normal: A manifesto to create a safe space, free of racism, for the black artist. Created by Fuel Theatre's community of freelancers
  • Utopia Theatre: a Sheffield-based company that produces cross-cultural content that enhances the value of the African community and promotes its recognition and its integration
British East Asian Theatre and Resources
  • BEATS (British East Asians in Theatre and on Screen)
  • BEATS Directory: a comprehensive listing of British East Asians working in the screen and stage industries
  • Chinese Arts Now: producing work that explores Chinese themes, stories and art forms, and work that blends Chinese and other contemporary art forms
  • Exit Pursued by Panda: a collaborative theatre company championing East Asian writing, acting and directing
  • Moongate Productions: committed to creating and developing projects that raise the profile of, and give free reign to, East Asian talent whilst actively challenging stereotypical portraits
  • Papergang Theatre: a theatre company with the aim of improving the representation of British East / South East Asian culture across the dramatic arts primarily in UK theatre. They produce work that is informed by the East Asian experience within Britain and the East Asian diaspora, inspired by the desire to see that perspective on stage.
  • Red Dragonfly Productions: bringing classic and modern stories from the East to British and European stages
  • Yellow Earth: international touring theatre company based in London and established to raise the profile of British East Asian theatre   
South Asian Theatre and Resources
Disability-Led Theatre and Resources
  • 7 Principles to Ensure an Inclusive Recovery: an initiative to ensure deaf, neurodiverse and disabled people are not discriminated against as creative work begins and venues reopen after the Covid-19 pandemic
  • Access Rider Open Template: a downloadable template put together to help freelance disabled artists approach naming access requirements for organisations you may work with
  • Access to Work: A Guide for the Arts and Cultural Sector: a guide written by Disability Arts Online to interpret the Access to Work rules and official guidance with specific advice for the arts and cultural sector
  • Attitude is Everything: a charity working to improve Deaf and disabled people's access to live music, with a resources section on their website that contains many practical guides relevant to theatre employers 
  • BSL Interpreter Awareness Guide: a guide for anyone that uses the services of British Sign Language/English interpreters, produced by the National Union of British Sign Language Interpreters
  • Cards for Inclusion: Created by Unlimited, this is a card game helping the arts sector explore how barriers can be removed
  • Disability Arts Online: an organisation led by disabled people, set up to advance disability arts and culture
  • Disability Rights UK: this charity for people with lived experience of disability or health conditions has produced a suite of work related factsheets and guides useful to employers
  • Equity's Guide to Good Practice with BSL in the Arts: helps the industry make sure its working practices are as inclusive as possible, and meet the needs of D/deaf actors and the wider D/deaf community
  • Graeae's 'How To' videos: video resources for making accessible work online
  • Making your conference presentation accessible: guidance produced by VocalEyes to help you make your presentations accessible to blind and partially sighted people
  • National Autistic Society's Guide for Theatres: a guide explaining some of the small adjustments that can make a huge difference to an autistic person's visit to theatre
  • Neurodivergent Creatives Network: a network for neurodivergent creatives in the arts  to help address issues faced by artists, share opportunities and highlight work by its members
  • Neurodivergent language guide: put together by Flow Observatorium, this guide covers appropriate neurodivergent/autistic language
  • Ramps on the Moon: a collaborative network of six National Portfolio Organisations and strategic partner Graeae Theatre, enriching stories by normalising the presence of deaf and disabled people on and off stage
  • Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB): one of the UK's leading sight loss charities and the largest community of blind and partially sighted people, with a useful website section for employers and businesses
  • Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID): a charity working to make life fully inclusive for for deaf people or those with hearing loss or tinnitus - employers should visit the 'work' section of their website
  • Sense: a charity for those living with complex disabilities and who are deafblind, providing useful information about removing barriers for those they serve
  • Shape Arts: a disability led arts organisation which works to improve access to culture for disabled people, and provides resources, training and audits for organisations
  • The definitive guide to disability inclusion in the workplace: an article exploring the key aspects of disability in the workplace, looking at inclusive policies and working styles, showcasing key data and methods to create a more inclusive culture. 
  • Touretteshero: a project to celebrate and share the creativity and humour of Tourettes in an accessible way, with the widest possible audience, and increase awareness of Tourettes and its challenges
  • What is an access audit?: information from O'Herlihy Access Consultancy on what an access audit is and what it covers
  • Unlimited: an arts commissioning programme that enables new work by disabled artists to reach UK and international audiences
Theatre and Resources for Diverse Communities

  • 20 Stories High: making theatre with working class and culturally diverse young people, emerging artists and world class professionals     

    Arcola Theatre: creating trailblazing theatre for all

  • Battersea Arts Centre: the world’s first Relaxed Venue, with access and inclusivity embedded across all its activities
  • Belgrade Theatre Coventry: together with the diverse communities across Coventry and the region, enriching and changing people’s lives for the better through theatre
  • Beyond Face: a performance company based in Plymouth whose mission is to raise the profile and visibility of People of Colour in the Arts
  • Beyond the Canon: an initiative, led by Simeilia Hodge-Dallaway, championing ground breaking, yet forgotten and hidden plays by culturally diverse writers
  • Bush Theatre: discovering, nurturing and producing the best new playwrights from the widest range of backgrounds
  • Everything Matters: an investigative research project produced by Tangle in 2012 and still having an impact several years on. Taking place across South West England, the study captured opinions about African Caribbean theatre, volunteered by 20 theatres and arts organisations across the UK’s largest and most rurally dispersed region, and one of its most mono-cultural areas. 
  • Hackney Empire: a variety theatre for the 21st century that embraces a local and global community of artists and audiences     

    LIFT (London International Festival of Theatre): bringing international theatre all over London every two years.

    LIFT stands for radical empowerment and inclusion, and promotes international perspectives, understanding that difference makes us stronger

  • Off/Stage ezine: an online, interactive ezine dedicated to British black and Asian theatre and culture.

  • Parents and Carers in Performing Arts: research investigating the impact of caring responsibilities on those working on-stage and off-stage
  • Photo library featuring people of colour in off-stage roles  
  • Selina Thompson: an interdisciplinary performance company based in Birmingham    
  • Stage Sight: case studies* from arts organisations working on improving off-stage representation
  • Stage Sight: useful guides and documents* to help you demonstrate best practice for achieving a more representative off-stage workforce
  • Tiata Fahodzi: a theatre company for Britain today and the Britain of tomorrow
  • Young Vic Theatre: presenting high quality work at low prices for some of the most diverse and engaged audiences in London
  • Armstrong Cameron: research, evaluation and project development in the arts and culture sector, with a focus on socially engaged practice, issues of equality and social justice

  • Creative Mentor Network: a tailored consultancy and programme design for businesses who want to strengthen diversity and inclusion in their organisation

  • Green Parkspecialist recruitment consultants recruiting diverse and inclusive workforces

  • Inc Arts: addressing how best to build diverse agency and growth within the sector
  • Sour Lemons: consultancy services: creating inclusive environments so diverse talent can thrive
  • Spot The Gap: offer diversity, equality and inclusion strategy, action plans and training as well as advocacy, policy and campaigns strategy for social inclusion issues
  • The Other Box: an award winning diversity and inclusion company educating businesses on bias.
  • Tonic Theatre: supporting the arts to achieve greater gender equality and diversity

Recorded webinars available to view at TheatreMeansBusiness.info:

  • Akram Khan Company: embracing an artistic vision that both respects and challenges Indian kathak form and contemporary dance
  • Ballet Black: aims to bring ballet to a more culturally diverse audience by celebrating Black and Asian dancers in ballet
  • Boy Blue: the UK’s most prominent street dance and hip hop performance company
  • Breakin’ Convention: international festival of hiphop dance theatre   
  • Phoenix Dance Theatre: creating dynamic, diverse and relevant work that embodies the Company’s rich Caribbean history and shines a light on cultural narratives which are often overlooked or untold    
  • Shobana Jeyasingh Dance: founded by Shobana Jeyasingh, whose work is noted for both its intellectual rigour and its visceral physicality
  • Tavaziva: renowned for its beautiful and dynamic hybridization of contemporary, ballet and African dance, Tavaziva was established in 2004 and is led by Zimbabwean-born Bawren Tavaziva

  • ZooNation: The Kate Prince Company: ground-breaking storytellers creating original music and dance to inspire the next generation of theatregoers and theatre makers
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"UK Theatre" is the operating name of UK Theatre Association, a company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales, whose registered office is at 32 Rose Street, London, WC2E 9ET, Company No 323204.