Monday, 5 October 2015

Creative Industries Federation diversity report

The Creative Industries Federation has released a report about diversity. The report, which was produced in partnership with MOBO, shares views expressed by Act for Change.*

The Federation held a launch for the report at the BFI last Monday. Eliza Easton, the author of the report and CEO John Kampfner spoke at the event, as well as Kanya King (CEO of MOBO), David Oyelowo and Ed Vaizey (Minister of State for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries).
The Guardian has published excerpts from Oyelowo's speech. Other media coverage includes an article by King in the Huffington Post and an interview with King and Kampfner on Front Row (begins at 6:45).

The report focuses on Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic (BAME), women and socioeconomic background as factors contributing to workplace diversity (p. 4). Its principal recommendations are in the following areas (pp. 19, 21, 24, 28):
  • Recruitment. Develop a hiring strategy to attract a wider range of candidates.
  • Content. Produce content that reflects a diverse society. For instance, programming and commissioning works that represent a range of narratives. In terms of personnel, creative industry organisations "should reflect the society that consumes their products." This has an effect on economic outcomes: the report cites research by McKinsey which suggests that companies in the top quartile for ethnicity and gender diversity were more likely to generate at least 15% financial returns above their respective national industry medians (pp. 13-14).
  • Strategy. Conduct an audit to determine the current diversity status of an organisation and take action accordingly. Areas to consider are employment conditions, attitudes and branding. Are there pay gaps when comparing by gender or ethnicity? Do employees require training to recognise conscious and unconscious biases? Does an organisation have diversity as part of its overall vision?

Case studies from organisations such as a production company, communications consultancy and charities show practical applications of these recommendations. What remains to be seen is if other organisations, especially members of the Federation, can also demonstrate a similar commitment to improving and maintaining levels of diversity. Perhaps these outcomes will be addressed in a current partnership - the Federation is working with McKinsey on a project that relates workforce diversity to financial performance (p. 14).

Act for Change is listed in the report's organisational directory (p. 36). Their manifesto intersects with the recommendations in the report: developing a recruiting strategy to obtain a variety of candidates, representing diversity in content and monitoring levels of diversity:
  • Recruitment. "By 2016, to secure a revision to the Ofcom Broadcasting Code requiring production companies to audition at least one BAME actor for every leading role, unless an occupational requirement applies. Where an occupational requirement exists the production company must set out, in the casting breakdown, the legitimate aim it hopes to achieve by limiting the role to one racial group."
  • Content. "By 2016, to ensure an additional Ofcom standards objective requiring the broadcasting regulator to secure “that the content of television and radio programmes reflects the identity, character and cultural diversity of the UK.”"
  • Strategy. "By the end of 2015, to establish an independent body which monitors the diversity levels of those working in TV Drama (both behind and in front of the camera) on an annual basis."

Another common factor between the Federation's report and Act for Change's manifesto is a psychological one. Some individuals in creative organisations will need to recognise biases, whether conscious or unconscious, and adjust their attitudes accordingly. A significant challenge, but an achievable one.

* This is my second post about diversity. I am a newbie to writing about this issue - I previously wrote about Act for Change in August.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Samuel West - Shakespeare, Chekhov, Doctor Who

Sam talks about Romeo and Juliet in "Why Shakespeare is awesome", a video on the Canvas Youtube channel (via his Twitter, @exitthelemming).

The Seagull and Ivanov are currently in previews - these plays are in the Young Chekhov season at Chichester Festival Theatre. In other words...

@WhoSFX tweeted a picture of Sam with Kate O'Mara and David Roden (writer, "Dimensions in Time"). 

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Samuel West - The Seagull, The Frankenstein Chronicles, Portrayal of Disability

Sam had an aerosol mix up for The Seagull dress rehearsal...
The Seagull is in previews from 28 September.

The Frankenstein Chronicles will have a premiere screening at Everyman on 11 November. Click here for tickets.

He will contribute to "Portrayal of Disability", a one day conference organised by the BFI in partnership with UK Disability History Month (via Disability Arts Online). The event is on 19 November at the Blue Room, BFI Southbank.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Charles Edwards - Double Acts, #15secondshakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing

Charles and Celia Imrie will star in the first episode of John Finnemore's Double Acts on BBC Radio 4. The series begins in October (Finnemore's Twitter, @JohnFinnemore 1|2|3)

This is Charles' take on #15secondshakespeare*

Playwright Ken Ludwig mentioned Charles in an interview about his "Favorite Things" (Playbill).
"As for Much Ado, this funniest of all Shakespeare plays has received two other productions that I love: one that I’ve only seen on tape, with Sam Waterston in the Public Theater production; and one that I saw at the Globe in London with Charles Edwards and Eve Best. Together, they gave two of the best Shakespeare performances I’ve ever seen – and you can get it on DVD!"
Ludwig is referring to a 2011 production of Much Ado About Nothing at the Globe; click here to find out more.

* reciting lyrics, Shakespeare style (Nerd Reactor)

Friday, 18 September 2015

Samuel West - The Book of Disquiet, Frank Auerbach, Peace Brigades International

The Book of Disquiet has been featured in the New York Times' "Fall and beyond" music listings. It will be performed 21-24 January at Montclair State University. Click here for tickets.

Sam, Juliet Stevenson and Ian Mckellen will perform in "Shakespeare and the Law" (17 November, Middle Temple Hall). The event has been organised by Peace Brigades International (PBI) and the Alliance for Lawyers at Risk.
Juliet and Sam have previously worked with PBI. In May 2013, they performed in a gala honouring defenders of the rule of law.


Sam went to the Photograph 51 press night on Monday. Rather appropriately, he wore a tie with a periodic table on it ( and his Twitter, @exitthelemming). Andrew Scott and Harriet Walter also attended the event.

Earlier this month, Sam discussed artist Frank Auerbach in Art Quarterly (via @artfund).

Parents in Performing Arts will have a campaign launch at the Young Vic on 16 October. Romola Garai and Poppy Burton-Morgan are confirmed to speak. Sam and John Simm are listed as supporters on the Eventbrite listing.

Sam endorsed the arts policy proposed by Christian Wolmar (via @wolmarforlondon). Wolmar was a candidate seeking nominations to be Labour's candidate for Mayor of London. 

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Samuel West - Young Chekhov at Chichester

(Samuel West and Olivia Vinall. Source: The Corner Shop PR; photo by Johan Persson)

The Corner Shop PR has released rehearsal pictures from the Young Chekhov season at the Chichester Festival Theatre. Sam will play Trigorin in The Seagull and the title role in Ivanov.

He and Jade Williams were interviewed on the theatre's website.

The Guardian has featured the season in its "hottest plays of autumn 2015":
A rare chance to see the formation of Chekhov’s genius in his three earliest plays in new versions by David Hare directed by Jonathan Kent. A 22-strong ensemble, headed by Anna Chancellor, James McArdle and Samuel West, appears in all three plays which, on certain orgiastic occasions, you’ll be able to see in a single day.
Sam has tweeted some pictures from rehearsals, including books for research and props.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

The Mono Box

The Mono Box is a resource for actors, directors and playwrights. It was set up by actor Joan Iyiola and movement director/choreographer Polly Bennett in 2012. The organisation runs workshops and events. It also has a collection of plays that was entirely donated by industry professionals. Several donors are people I have featured on my blog over the years* - actors Hugh Bonneville, Olivia Colman, Charles Edwards, Andrew Scott, Michael Sheen, Juliet Stevenson and David Tennant; and playwrights Caryl Churchill, Lucy Prebble and Laura Wade.

* belated realisation that I've had this blog for nine years!

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Artists Against TTIP and Act for Change

I decided to put Artists Against TTIP and Act for Change in a blog post because I noticed that there are some people who are associated with both campaigns: David Morrissey, Juliet Stevenson, Samuel West and Ruth Wilson.

Screencaps of Tobias Menzies, Juliet Stevenson, Andrew Scott and Ruth Wilson from the Artists Against TTIP launch video.

Artists Against TTIP launched in July. TTIP is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, a treaty aimed at aligning trade laws between the EU and US. In The Stage, Samuel West commented on cosmetic regulations and Carrie Cracknell suggested possible issues with subsidy and copyright.

Click the pictures above to view a selection of videos on the Act for Change Youtube channel.
(Row 1 - Chipo Chung, Indira Varma, Gemma Chan
Row 2 - Ruth Wilson & Danny Lee Wynter, Juliet Stevenson, David Harewood & David Morrissey)

Danny Lee Wynter established Act for Change in 2014, after seeing an ITV trailer which did not feature a single BAME or disabled artist. The organisation aims to improve diversity in UK performing arts, both in performance and behind the scenes.
In June, Shami Chakrabarti (head of civil rights group Liberty), chaired an Act for Change event at the National Theatre. The event had a variety of panellists: actor Adrian Lester, actor/writer Cush Jumbo, director Phyllida Lloyd, critic Mark Lawson, shadow culture secretary Chris Bryant and artistic director Jenny Sealey (BBC News and Samuel West's Twitter, @exitthelemming). Actors Sophia Sinclair, Ayesha Casely-Hayford and Mitesh Soni shared their thoughts on the debate; all have stressed the importance of improving opportunities for people from diverse backgrounds.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Charles Edwards - Florence Foster Jenkins

[updated 17 August]

The film Florence Foster Jenkins is one of Charles' upcoming projects (ambitionmakesmetired via hellyescharlesedwards). It stars Meryl Streep as Jenkins and Hugh Grant as St Clair Bayfield. Jenkins was a socialite who dreamt of becoming a great opera singer and Bayfield was her manager. When Florence decided to give a public concert at Carnegie Hall in 1944, St. Clair knew he faced his greatest challenge - protecting her from the fact that her singing was actually awful (BBC Films).
Director Stephen Frears previously worked with Charles on Philomena.