UK Theatre seeks to improve Board diversity and opens application process for new Board members

UK Theatre seeks to improve Board diversity and opens application process for new Board members

UK Theatre has today announced it is seeking applicants to join its Board. This follows the formation of a Working Group tasked with identifying and recruiting potential candidates to join its Board from Autumn 2021, to make the Board membership more representative of the UK population and to create more diversity of thought and skills in Board discussions.

In June 2021 UK Theatre’s membership voted to modernise the articles which govern the way Board eligibility is decided, resulting in 6 co-opted places being made available on the Board, and it is these places which the Working Group are seeking to fill.

UK Theatre President Fiona Allan said: ‘We anticipate that a diverse Board will bring diverse opinions, perspectives and lived experiences. Now more than ever, as we start to emerge from the pandemic, we need to look at our challenges from multiple perspectives to help us build towards a vibrant, inclusive and sustainable sector’.

Anyone interested in applying should read the recruitment brief here, which outlines the application process. Deadline for submissions is Friday 24 September 2021.

Following a survey conducted earlier this year* some areas of demographic under-representation and skills gaps were identified, and the current Board are keen to address this and create a Board that is more reflective of contemporary society in its makeup and its thinking.

Certain skills and areas of expertise have been identified as a priority including legal, sustainability, digital production and distribution and IT and business intelligence systems. UK Theatre is keen to identify people with these skills from currently under-represented demographics, including Black and Asian ethnicities, people from Jewish and Muslim faiths, and people with lived experience of the issues that the organisation is addressing in its diversity and inclusion work, including disability, LGBTQIA+, gender and socio-economic status.

The Board Recruitment Working Group are also keen to ensure representation is considered in relation to gender balance, regional diversity, diversity from all four nations, different organisation types (e.g. commercial and not-for-profit), different sectors (e.g. the wider cultural sector or other business sectors), and people representing the self-employed workforce.

In the next few months the Working Group will be identifying potential new candidates who can bring a wealth of skills and experience to the UK Theatre Board. The shortlisted candidates will be proposed to the Board in October, with a view to them being in place in time for the next UK Theatre AGM on Wed 3 November 2021. This process is separate to the usual procedure for Elected and Subscriber Board Members.

Headed up by Jon Gilchrist, Executive Director HOME, the Working Group is supported by Fiona Allan, President UK Theatre and Artistic Director and Chief Executive Birmingham Hippodrome, Julian Bird, Chief Executive SOLT/UK Theatre, Abid Hussain, Director, Diversity Arts Council England, Andrew Miller, Arts Consultant and Broadcaster, Deborah Sawyerr, Deputy Executive Director Mercury Theatre Colchester, Ian Wilson, Chief Executive, Grand Opera House Belfast, and Louise Miles-Payne, Director Creu Cymru and Sebastian Cater, Head of UK Theatre and Workforce Development.

This work to diversify the Board forms part of UK Theatre’s Diversity and Inclusion Plan and Business Plan, both of which were published in 2021.

The same process of auditing the Board and membership and updating the legal framework governing Board elections is currently underway for SOLT.


*Early in 2021 a skills and demographic audit of UK Theatre’s Board and membership was conducted, which showed where there are skills and demographic gaps in the current Board, and enabled identification of the skills and demographics required to balance out the current makeup. UK Theatre will be undertaking surveys annually following each Board election and will publish the findings annually.

The audit highlighted these areas of current under-representation on the Board and in the membership, compared to the UK population (UK population comparisons are taken from the 2011 Census):

  • there are no people identifying as Black, Black British, African or Caribbean on the Board, compared to 1% of the membership, and 3% of the UK population
  • while 8% of the UK population identifies as Asian or Asian British, only 1% of the membership identify as this, and no-one on the Board is Asian or Asian British
  • no-one on the Board identifies as being from Mixed/multiple ethnic groups, compared to 2% of the UK population, and 2% of the membership
  • 26% of the Board identify as Christian, while there are no Jewish or Muslim Board members, compared to the UK population which has 60% Christian and 5% Muslim
  • as a marker of socio-economic status, there was significant under-representation of people without a degree: 16% of Board members compared to 27% of the membership, and 58% of the UK population.

There are also several areas where there is currently positive representation revealed by the audit:

  • the gender split of our membership is around equal to the UK population (51% female membership / 47% female Board members).
  • there is a good representation on the Board of disabled people compared to the UK population (26% against 22% respectively), though our membership only comprises 15% disabled people.
  • the Board is very diverse in relation to sexual orientation, with 26% lesbian, gay or bisexual people compared to 23% in the membership, and 3% in the UK.
Click here to download the full 2021 demographic audit data tables
Date Published: 19 August 2021
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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.