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Stars call for tax break to boost diversity in film and TV

CAMPAIGN: Sir Henry Lenny presented a letter calling for tax breaks to encourage diversity to 10 Downing Street today

SIR LENNY Henry, Adrian Lester and Ade Adepitan are among those calling on the government to give tax breaks to organisations that champion diversity by hiring black, Asian and minority ethnic and disabled creatives.

The famous faces from film and TV have joined together to lobby the government to introduce financial incentives in a bid to boost diversity in the entertainment industry.

In a letter handed to 10 Downing Street this afternoon, the stars state: “True representation of the diversity of the UK isn’t just about what we see on our screens, but also the people writing, directing, filming and working behind the camera.

“Over the years, some of the most important British films and television have been written and directed by Britain’s talented female, BAME [black, Asian and minority ethnic] and disabled creatives … They enrich the creativity of the UK and add to our cultural heritage, but unfortunately they continue to be the exception rather than the rule.”

The letter also states: "We believe the implementation of Representation Tax Relief is necessary because diversity in important sections of the UK film and television industry is in crisis."

While advances have been made on-screen, in terms of black and other ethnic minority actors being cast in prominent roles, there have not been considerable advances behind the camera.

Henry told BBC News: “All we’re asking for is a seat at the table.”

The letter has been signed by 80 people, including actress Thandie Newton, actor Chiwetel Ejiofor and playwright and artistic director of The Young Vic, Kwame Kwei-Armah.

According to the letter, which drew on a report by Directors UK, only 2% of UK TV is directed by those from BAME backgrounds.

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