Mainstage theatre struggles in diversity stakes, claims new report

Anecdotal evidence has long suggested a cultural imbalance on our main stages; a new independent report attempts to provide quantitative data on the subject.

Jacob Rajan in Indian Ink Theatre Company’s Guru of Chai at Belvoir. Photo by Brett Boardman.

Of 95 mainstage productions being staged by Australia’s ten largest theatre companies this year, only four will be both written and directed by a person of colour, whereas 70 productions are both written/devised and directed by white artists.

One quarter of Australian works surveyed are written by artists of colour, suggesting that Australian writers are contributing the majority of culturally diverse works on our mainstages. However, only 9.26% of mainstage Australian works are directed by people of colour.

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Richard Watts is ArtsHub's National Performing Arts Editor; he also presents the weekly program SmartArts on Three Triple R FM, and serves as the Chair of La Mama Theatre's volunteer Committee of Management. Richard is a life member of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival, and was awarded the status of Melbourne Fringe Living Legend in 2017. In 2020 he was awarded the Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards' Facilitator's Prize. Most recently, Richard was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Green Room Awards Association in June 2021. Follow him on Twitter: @richardthewatts