The 'Centre Stage' report from the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation raises vital issues around the talent pipeline for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) performers. It reveals serious gaps in the structure for encouraging young people to apply for and take up places at Drama School, as well as for offering opportunities to enter the profession post-college. Those in charge of recruiting into the Drama Schools and those responsible for professional casting need to take careful note of the barriers that currently exist and to play their part in removing them.

Before joining Children & the Arts 8 years ago, I worked as Managing Director of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, so I’ve seen at first hand the care with which the audition panels there strived to level the playing field for applicants from all backgrounds. I was proud of our track record there in recruiting BAME students and it’s clear that RADA and other leading drama schools are seeking to open their doors as widely as possible.

But the core problems begin much earlier. BAME youngsters are less likely than their white peers to get involved in the arts during their primary and secondary education - less likely to visit the theatre and less likely to participate in drama groups. The erosion of arts elements in the national curriculum hasn't helped, nor has the progressive reduction in school theatre trips. At Children & the Arts, we work hard to target schools with high proportions of children from disadvantaged backgrounds and to build partnerships between those schools and their local theatre, gallery or museum, so that the children are regularly seeing high-quality performances and exhibitions and working with top-quality artists to develop their own creativity and imagination. The results speak for themselves - the experience is often transformational and can make all the difference in giving young people the motivation and self-confidence to see the arts as a world they have a right to enter, enjoy and even pursue a career in.

Read the full report here