An Open Letter to the Culture Secretary from Black, Asian & Ethnically Diverse Theatre Artistic Directors

An Open Letter to the Culture Secretary from Black, Asian & Ethnically Diverse Theatre Artistic Directors and Cultural Leaders on the Importance of Protecting Representation in the Sector

The Rt Hon Olivier Dowden CBE
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
100 Parliament Street

Dear Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Culture, 

Throughout the last decade, British theatre has led the world with regard to the Black, Asian and ethnic diversity on our stages.  Many of those actors are now international names: John Boyega, Idris Elba, Gemma Chan, Dev Patel, Cynthia Erivo, Daniel Kaluuya, Benedict Wong, Cush Jumbo, Letitia Wright, the list goes on.

Equally as exciting, the last few years have seen an explosion of world-leading Black, Asian and ethnically diverse artists transforming major UK theatrical organisations, from touring, to off-West End, to pioneering regional theatres and cultural institutions. Our programming choices have demonstrated that inclusivity is a major contributor to our success.

The Covid-19 crisis threatens all aspects of the theatrical ecology, but catalysed by the revelations of the racial disparity in the health crisis, this group of Black, Asian and ethnically diverse artistic leaders call on the government and the sector to ensure the progress we have collectively made does not fall by the way-side.

We insist that ethnic diversity is protected and celebrated in policy going forwards and propose that any task-force or group gathering to speak about the future of our industry seeks out consultation from Black, Asian and ethnically diverse leaders to ensure this commitment.

We are a great British success story, and will be essential to the arts returning at full strength and playing its part in our nation’s recovery.


Keith Saha – Co-Artistic Director, 20 Stories High
Matthew Xia – Artistic Director & Joint CEO, Actors Touring Company
Kenneth Olumuyiwa Tharp CBE – Director, The Africa Centre
Farooq Chaudhry OBE – Co-founder & Executive Producer, Akram Khan Company 
Mehmet Ergen – Artistic Director, Arcola Theatre
Cassa Pancho MBE – Founder, Artistic Director & CEO, Ballet Black
Tarek Iskander – Artistic Director & CEO, Battersea Arts Centre 
Anisa Morridadi – Founder & CEO, Beatfreeks
Corey Campbell & Justine Themen – Co-Artistic Directors, Belgrade Theatre
Hannah Azieb Pool – Artistic Director & CEO, Bernie Grant Arts Centre
Alix Harris – Artistic Director, Beyond Face
Amit Sharma – Deputy Artistic Director, Birmingham Repertory Theatre
Arike Oke – Managing Director, Black Cultural Archives
Kenrick ‘H2O’ Sandy & Michael ‘Mikey J’ Asante – Co-Artistic Directors, Boy Blue
Gbolahan Obisesan – Artistic Director, Brixton House
Naomi Sumner Chan- Artistic Director, Brush Stroke Order
Lynette Linton – Artistic Director, Bush Theatre
An-Ting Chang – Artistic Director & CEO, Chinese Arts Now
Vinna Law – Artistic Director, Cognatus Theatre
Chenine Bhathena – Creative Director, Coventry UK City Of Culture Trust
David Tse – Artistic Director, East Zest Productions
Amanda Huxtable & Shawab Iqbal – Artistic Director, CEO & Executive Producer, Eclipse Theatre
Iskandar Sharazuddin – Co-founder, Ellandar Productions
Adrian Tang – Artistic Director, Exit Pursued By Panda
Maria Oshodi – Artistic Director & CEO, Extant
Abdul Shayek – Artistic Director & CEO, Fio Cardiff
Lucy Sheen – Founder & Artistic Director, Foundling Productions
Aisha Khan – Co-Artistic Director, Freedom Studios
Yamin Choudury – Artistic Director, Hackney Empire
Dominic Garfield & Joseph Barnes-Phillips – Co-Artistic Directors, HighRise Theatre
Suba Das – Artistic Director & CEO, HighTide
Karena Johnson – Artistic Director & CEO, Hoxton Hall
Ben Qasim Monks – Executive Director, Improbable
Anj Handa – Chair of Freedom Studios & Founder of Inspiring Women Changemakers
Sepake Angiama – Artistic Director, Institute of International Visual Arts
Indhu Rubasingham – Artistic Director, Kiln Theatre
Zhui Ning Chang – Co-Founder, Lazy Native
Kully Thiarai – Creative Director, Leeds 2023
Stella Kanu – Chair, Eclipse Theatre & Executive Director, LIFT Festival
Deborah Sawyerr – Deputy Executive Director, Mercury Theatre, Colchester
Daniel York Loh & Jennifer Lim – Founders and Co-Artistic Directors, Moongate Productions
Ria Parry – Co-Director, The North Wall
Sharon Watson – Principal & CEO, Northern School of Contemporary Dance
Clarissa Widya – Artistic Director, Papergang Theatre
Alex Chang – Co-Founder, Paradox House
Michelle Yim – Artistic Director & Producer, Red Dragonfly Theatre Productions
Pravesh Kumar – Artistic Director & CE, Rifco Theatre Company
Kathy Williams – Director, RJC Dance
Roy Alexander Weise – Co-Artistic Director, Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester
Pawlet Brookes- Founder, Artistic Director & CEO, Serendipity
Kevin Shen – Co-Artistic Director, Special Relationship Productions
Prema Mehta – Lighting Designer and Founder, Stage Sight
Michael Buffong – Artistic Director, Talawa Theatre Company
Suzann McLean – Artistic Director & CEO, Theatre Peckham
Nadia Fall – Artistic Director, Theatre Royal Stratford East
Ailin Conant – Artistic Director, Theatre Temoin
Natalie Ibu – Artistic Director & CEO, tiata fahodzi
Anna Nguyen & Mingyu Lin – Co-founders, Trikhon Theatre
Justin Audibert – Artistic Director, Unicorn Theatre
Vicki Amedume – Artistic Director, Upswing
Tuyet Van Huynh  – Co-Founder, VanThanh Productions
Doreen Foster – Director, Warwick Arts Centre
Melanie Keen – Director, Wellcome Collection
Kumiko Mendl – Artistic Director, Yellow Earth Theatre
Kwame Kwei-Amah – Artistic Director, Young Vic

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