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There's no business like showbusiness: Lords to examine skills in theatre industry

The House of Lords Communications Committee today launches a short inquiry into the skills needed to sustain the UK theatre industry.

The Government has identified the creative industries as one of their priorities for “cultivating world-leading sectors” as part of its Industrial Strategy.

Latest figures for the sector show that creative industries are worth £87.4 billion a year to the UK economy. Despite this valuable contribution, some have identified a widening gap between the skills demanded by the sector and those supplied by education and training providers. There has also been a decline in funding from local authorities, which constitute the largest single source of revenue for the creative sector.

There is no specific education route to a job in a theatre and it has become an uncertain career path with poorly paid entry level jobs. There are concerns that it has become a career for only those who can afford it leading to a decrease in diversity within the sector. Using the theatre as a case study, the Committee will examine how the UK can nurture and develop the talent needed to maintain the success of this country's creative industries.

The Committee will begin this work with an evidence session on Tuesday 14 March when they will question witnesses from an industry trade union and membership organisation at 3.30pm, followed by witnesses from educational institutions.

At 3.30pm:

  • Christine Payne, General Secretary, Equity
  • Julian Bird, CEO, UK Theatre and Society of London Theatre

At 4.30pm:

  • Stephen Lacey, Chair, Standing Conference of University Drama Departments (SCUDD), and Emeritus Professor of Drama, Film and Television, University of South Wales
  • Bryan Raven, Vice-chair of National College of Creative and Cultural Industries, and Managing Director, White Light

Questions which they may face include:

  • What data and information is there regarding a possible future skills gap in the theatre industry? Is more research needed in this area?
  • What role does Government policy play in this sector, in relation to schools, further and higher education?
  • How does the development and maintenance of roles in the theatre support and interact with the roles in the wider creative economy?

The Committee will start its evidence session at 3.30pm on Tuesday 14 March in the House of Lords Committee Room 2.

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