Response to Theatre Call to Action #PullUpOrShutUp

The Workers Theatre is a workers cooperative. It was founded in 2017 and has produced one crowdfunded weekend festival and one funded five-day festival. The weekend festival included Megaphone, a residency with mentoring for artists of colour in Scotland. Our manifesto is online here: http://workerstheatre.co.uk/.

We operate on project funding only at the moment and have had 9 people work with us as producers since we started. We have paid approximately 65 other people for their work as freelancers during these two productions.

We did not collect equalities monitoring data for either project. We also don’t have a decision not to in minutes anywhere, but we talked about it and here are some reasons we think we didn’t decide to send out surveys: 

1. We viewed equalities monitoring as a tick-box, funding-focussed solution to an issue of representation that we were trying to address more proactively.  

2. Not everyone fills them in (so how representative is the data), and maybe also artists are asked to complete them so frequently that it feels like another form of unpaid time. 

We recognise in retrospect that not being able to present this data limits our ability to be accountable, and we will be happy to do so in future. All 9 producers from both projects have filled out surveys retrospectively so that we are able to at least present the data from these. We have write-in boxes only on the survey so have grouped responses as per Scottish census categories where possible so that they are more easily processed. Here are these statistics:

Ethnic background

0% Black or Caribbean

0% Asian/Asian Scottish/Asian British

11.1 North African/Arab/White

88.8 White, White Scottish, White British, North Irish, White Other

Sexuality

44.4% Bisexual

11.1% Gay

22.2% Queer

22.2% Straight/Heterosexual

Gender

55.5% female

22.2% male

11.1% genderqueer

11.1% arrrgh

Transgender status

77.7% cisgender

22.2% transgender

Disabled/Deaf

88.8% abled

11.1% disabled

0% Deaf

The most obvious problem is that we don’t have any Black producers/cooperative members. But we also don’t have appropriate representation of other minority ethnic groups in theatre, or Deaf theatre makers, or disabled theatre makers. 

We commit to the following, and would be very open to feedback about:

  • Not increasing the percentage of white cooperative members/producers, until such a time that members of colour review such a decision. We recognise that our current whiteness is a barrier to joining for theatre workers of colour. There is no upper limit to cooperative members, and we are against tokenism, so if nine Black artists or producers are into our manifesto and want to join tomorrow, great. However, to make sure that the onus is not on Black workers to take action, we also commit to:
  • Including specific projects to work with Black artists and producers in future funding applications.
  • Spending time building relationships with Black arts organisations, and committing financially to those relationships.
  • Aiming to go beyond population levels (particularly for Scotland) in diversity of artists and producers involved, and introducing EDI monitoring to make sure we’re doing that.
  • In the meantime, we have five £100 commissions available for Scottish theatre makers from marginalised groups who would like to write articles about the future of Scottish theatre, and we will be prioritising pitches from Black writers.