Report Released Highlighting Producers Racial Pay Gap

11 June 2024

A report has today been released outlining the career development and training opportunities for British theatre producers from the Global Majority, specifically exploring the lack of sustainable pathways into producing for these communities. The authors of the report are: Tom Six (Reader in Politics and Performance at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama), Rafia Hussain (Independent Producer), Jessica Bowles (Principal Lecturer in Creative Producing at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama) and Helen Jeffreys (Executive Director and Joint CEO at Tara Theatre). The research was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

To generate the findings, the researchers surveyed 187 theatre producers working in England between 25 April and 26 July 2023. The research shows that due to the current structures, there is an increased likelihood of poor representation for lower socioeconomic backgrounds in performing arts and plentiful evidence of continuing institutional racism in the theatre sector.. The research emphasises the urgency of increasing calls from the industry to tackle the collapsing infrastructure in the arts and its disproportionate impact on people of global majority heritage. 

The key findings are:

– There is a significant racial pay gap in theatre producing of 20%
– Unpaid work and overwork are both endemic to theatre producing
– Career development in theatre producing depends upon an infrastructure that is informal and lacks transparency
– Significant barriers to career development in producing are low pay, and high levels of precarity and expectation
– The report finds that an additive approach, one in which the addition of content, and perspectives, is not enough – there will need to be significant structural changes in producing to improve the profession
– Over a third of respondents asked for more training and mentoring schemes for early and mid-career producers to overcome these issues


Tom Six commented: Our report offers a detailed analysis of what any racially minoritised theatre worker will tell you: that racism is baked into the structures and practices that keep the sector going. More than that, we offer a prescription, developed alongside producers who know the theatre intimately, for rebuilding the sector in a fundamentally more equal and inclusive way.”

Rafia Hussain commented:This research shows that many of my own experiences as an independent producer are in fact shared by colleagues across the sector. It’s clear that we must prioritise fairer recruitment practices, improve working conditions and increase the visibility of the role to improve the sector and ensure that producing becomes a more accessible and sustainable career.

Jessica Bowles commented: Producers are pivotal to our theatre industry, the lack of diversity in producers today profoundly diminishes the opportunities for us all. This report identifies not just the key issues but also the steps we can all take today to act to address this.

Helen Jeffreys commented: This project was developed with Tara Theatre’s late Artistic Director, Abdul Shayek. The report we are publishing today is an important part of his legacy and his impact on the theatre industry.  Supporting practitioners of global majority and working-class backgrounds to develop sustainable careers was at the heart of Abdul’s vision; increasing the diversity of our cultural workforce continues to be central to our work at Tara Theatre. This report offers our sector a clear and actionable plan for change. 

Josette Bushell-Mingo OBE, Principal of The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, commented: “Even as we increase diversity on our stages, the ecology of the industry in its entirety matters. It matters when work is being commissioned and promoted to audiences, and it impacts on who feels welcome in our spaces – and who does not.  Representation matters. To truly make change in our industry, we need more Black and Global Majority, female, non-binary and trans, working class and disabled artists in leadership positions – as well as in leading roles.  This important research, led by The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and Tara Theatre, helps to shine a light on the problem and offers a tangible way forward to improving the industry for all of us – and for generations to come.”

Please find the full report here