Written By: Tara Conlan (The Guardian) 11/06/15
Equality and Human Rights Commission project offering advice on equality issues will be launched at the Edinburgh TV festival.
Television’s bid to improve diversity on-screen and behind the camera has been given a boost with £130,000 from the government for a new scheme being launched by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
Following Lenny Henry’s call to arms to broadcasters last year to improve the number of black and minority ethnic faces on television and behind the scenes, broadcasters and independent production companies have been keen to make changes.
According to the EHRC, industry studies show that just 5% of those working in the creative industries are BAME and only 5% of those working in the creative industries are from black or ethnic minorities while the number of disabled people in the creative media industries has remained static for 12 years at 5% compared with 11% across the rest of the working population.
However, some companies who want to improve diversity have been unsure about where they stand legally and the new fund – which is supported with money from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and help from regulator Ofcom – will give them access to advice on equality legislation, plus best practice and guidance. It will be launched at the Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival in August.
Culture minister Ed Vaizey said: “The EHRC guidance will be a very welcome and timely way to support broadcasters as they take forward plans to improve diversity on television. I want to see progress here, not just in on-screen diversity but also in recruitment to jobs behind the camera and in senior and professional roles in the industry.”
EHRC disability commissioner Lord Holmes of Richmond added: “The television industry knows it needs to raise its game, and match good intentions with clear action. For too long, the industry has largely ended up filling roles with people who look and sound like those who are interviewing them. And it’s not just about on-screen presence, but perhaps more importantly about making sure we have diversity at all roles up to the commissioning and management level at broadcasters and indies by addressing the barriers to entry and career progression.”
“This is not about political correctness but working harder to find the best talent across all communities, bringing new skills and perspectives that will help unlock economic and creative potential. Our guidance will explain how broadcasters can operate within the law, while redoubling their efforts to make TV more representative but crucially richer as a result.”
The news comes as the first winners of a new diversity writing scheme called WriterSlam – set up by Rev actor Jimmy Akingbola and AD: The Bible Continues star Fraser Ayres with their company Triforce Creative Network and the BBC, ITV and production company Tiger Aspect – have been unveiled.
Up-and-coming screenwriter Lee Coan won a paid development commission from ITV and ITV Studios, while writer Tom Mackay won the BBC award and a place on its continuing drama workshop, which is designed to find new writers for EastEnders, Holby City, Casualty and Doctors.
New writer Michael Wiafe was awarded a shadowing placement with a writer on one of Tiger Aspect’s dramas such as Ripper Street.
ITV head of drama series Jane Hudson, who was a judge at the event, said it had given “us the opportunity to meet some fantastic new talent and we can’t wait to start working with Lee”.
Source: The Guardian http://www.theguardian.com/media/2015/jun/11/government-gives-130000-to-scheme-giving-diversity-guidance-to-tv-industry