Touring theatre companies created an "anti-racist rider" which will require theatres to provide hairdresser for black hair, demographics profiles of local towns, and safe spaces for actors.
A tour rider is an agreement which stipulates the needs of performers at venues while on the road, with celebrities sometimes accused of diva-like behaviour for including extravagant backstage demands.
An anti-racist rider has now been developed by theatre companies which will insist venues have safe spaces, provision for black people’s hair and makeup, and welcome packages including local demographic information.
The rider could also ensure venues direct touring stars and staff to pubs which are inclusive, and potentially away from football crowds on match days.
Venues that do not match the standards set out in the rider could be overlooked for tours by companies supporting the agreement.
“In this industry we’ve been really good with the rockstars,” said Rowan Rutter, with theatre company HighTide
“What his rider seeks to do is say everyone is a rockstar, everyone has a baseline, and can enter any space with an expectation of support, welcome, pre-thought, safety, understanding and space to bring in their lived experiences.”
She added: “It’s things like knowing when local football matches are on, and what might mean for what the public and pubs are doing , knowing where your digs are and knowing that the owners and providers have been vetted.”
The rider has already been backed by dozens of organizations, including UK Theatre, a professional association whose members include the National Theatre and Shakespeare’s Globe.
The rider will insist venues have anti-racist policies in place, and anti-racist training for staff.
Venues should also: “Commit to increasing the ethnic diversity of staff to reflect the demographics from a wider range of communities if it currently does not.”
The rider states that venues should advise on places to eat, drink, and book travel that ensures touring staff don’t “get in after dark”.
“They are about safety, and preserving that sense of self,” Ms Ms Rutter said
The baseline standards established by the rider will ensure BAME actors have their posters placed with equal prominence, and that marketing materials have set word counts to prevent minority stars being
Venues should also: “Interrogate the language used within the building (signage, instructions, announcements etc.) and evaluate how welcoming and inclusive it is to audiences.”
The issue of language is also to be addressed by the touring company, which will agree to send headshots of cast members and staff with advice on the pronunciation of their names.
Companies will also speak to landlords in advance regarding the creation of safe spaces.
Richard Twyman, with English Touring Theatre, said: “Touring can be one of the most exciting things you can do as an artist. But for so many people it hasn’t been fulfilling or even safe. That has to change.
“I hope this rider can be a huge step in making people feel that they can be safe when touring around the country.”
Other considerations include ensuring accommodation is inclusive, and that venues offer the opportunity to see shows to all staff.
Theatre director Amanda Huxtable said: “It’s the future. We want to build back better after the year we’ve had.”