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Theatre director's quest to find leaders of tomorrow

NEW FACES: Anthony Ekundayo-Lennon will be working in full-time residential traineeships

THIRTY THEATRE practitioners of colour have been selected to join the new Artistic Director Leadership Programme (ADLP), which started earlier this month.

In a two-part project, four people will receive paid, two-year, full-time residential traineeships as part of the Trainee Artistic Director scheme and 26 practitioners who, in the Leaders of Tomorrow scheme, will receive a bespoke leadership development programme. Together, they will form a peer network of future theatre leaders of colour.

Research shows that companies with diverse workforces perform better and that those balances are achieved most successfully when diversity is understood at the top. This programme aims to increase the representation of theatre-makers of colour at the highest level of British theatre management, influencing whole organisations from the artists to administrators, the productions and the audiences.

In the long term, more theatre leaders of colour will result in artistic programmes and audiences that better reflect the talent, innovation and diversity of Britain in the 21st century.

Led by tiata fahodzi’s artistic director Natalie Ibu, the ADLP is a unique opportunity for training in the business of art created by four theatre companies – tiata fahodzi, 20 Stories High, Freedom Studios and Talawa Theatre Company, whose collective missions represent a rich, multicultural and modern Britain. All four of these organisations are led by people of colour with personal experience of the transformative possibilities of similar schemes.

NEW HEIGHTS: Nathan Powell will be gaining experience at 20 Stories high theatre company

Ibu said:

“The first Arts Council report about diversity was published in 1976 – we’ve been talking about the ‘diversity problem’ for longer than I’ve been alive.

“We hope that our programme – together with all the other essential projects – will mean that we can all stop talking about it and get on with doing it.

“It is a real pleasure to bring together 30 of Britain’s most exciting artists and administrators of colour at the beginning of their leadership careers who I know are going to continue to take up space, building an ecology where the next generation of artists of colour can be even more ambitious and not less.”

She continued:

“My very first job was provided by an Arts Council positive action scheme and transformed my trajectory. Without it, I wouldn’t be leading a National Portfolio Organisation now.”

The theatre sector recognises that it is not representative of the diversity of the population of the UK, particularly at leadership level, but has struggled to resolve it.

The ADLP aims to address this by providing a raft of new opportunities for its talented future leaders and developing real relationships between them and the sector, companies and buildings.

The four trainee artistic directors who will receive paid, two-year full-time residential traineeships are: Kash Arshad, who is being taken on at Freedom Studios; Anthony Ekundayo-Lennon, who will spend time at Talawa; Anastasia Osei-Kuffour, who will work with tiata fahodzi and Nathan Powell, teaming-up with 20 Stories High. They will work closely with the artistic director and their executive teams, receiving an exceptional opportunity to take part in and contribute to the daily life of running a theatre company from board meetings to budgeting.

For more details about the ADLP, click here.

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