The Acting Up inquiry, led by Gloria De Piero MP and Tracy Brabin MP, has investigated "on screen" and "on stage" representation in film, TV and theatre - as well as backstage roles including writers, producers, directors and technicians. Hundreds of people at all levels in the performing arts have contributed to the inquiry, either by responding to the call for evidence online or by attending one of the inquiry's evidence sessions in parliament.
The two MPs were asked by Tom Watson, Labour’s Shadow Culture, Media and Sport Secretary, to lead the inquiry into access and diversity in the performing arts. On August 10 2017, the inquiry published a report with policy recommendations including:
- Revamp the EBacc: The EBacc has led to the systematic marginalisation of arts subjects, particularly drama, from schools. The measure should be revamped to recognise the benefits of creative subjects in tandem with the importance of core academic subjects.
- Reform of the drama school application process: Application and audition fees for drama schools can be prohibitive and are not justifiable. A centralised UCAS based process should be introduced for degree awarding institutions with a flat application fee.
- An HMRC review of NMW enforcement in the performing arts: Poverty pay is the Government’s business. The performing arts is one of the most unregulated sections of the labour market. We need a targeted review by Her Majesties Revenue and Customs, who regulate payment of the minimum wage, looking at ensuring the National Minimum Wage (NMW) is paid to those entitled to it.
- Supporting behind the scenes talent: Of screen diversity is critical to on screen diversity. Broadcasters, film companies and theatres need to do more to bring on and develop working class and diverse talent in all levels and roles behind the scenes. Lenny Henry has recently urged Ofcom to monitor the BBC’s diversity behind the scenes, we should monitor across the broadcasters too.
- Filling the class gap. Class data should be an essential part of all diversity data collection in order to get a true picture of access and diversity across the performing arts. Politicians should spearhead a move to recognise socio-economic disadvantage in law.