The anti-racism rider and toolkit is launched today as a step towards more equitable working conditions for touring shows and events. In response to personal testimonies and feedback from over 100 freelancers, Co-ordinated by a group of 15 national touring theatre companies, and spearheaded by Amanda Huxtable, Rowan Rutter (HighTide), Richard Twyman (English Touring Theatre) and Lian Wilkinson (New Earth Theatre), the rider and accompanying checklist offers a series of actions for anti-racist practice, giving a framework to establish the baseline of expectations and support between stakeholders on a touring production.
The events of 2020 only highlighted the need for change within the industry, and the importance of standardising practice across the UK to safeguard companies, productions and venues paving the way for greater equality and safe practice. The rider seeks to foster closer working relationships between companies and venues, with the intention of providing a standard of care and commitment both from the theatres and producers.
Amanda Huxtable, Rowan Rutter, Richard Twyman and Lian Wilkinson said today, “After months of consultation and pooling of collective knowledge, we publish the rider today in good faith. We believe it will effect tangible change in the improvement of working conditions within the industry and offer a toolkit for better working practice for all. The rider is designed to be for everybody, and used by everybody, complementing existing anti-racism work within the sector or providing a starting point for those beginning to implement anti-racism actions in their practice. We hope that it will also serve as an act of encouragement and support for all who have worked tirelessly over the years. Change is needed. The change is now.”
The rider – the first practical toolkit for change offered from within the industry – is backed by companies in the National Touring Network including 20 Stories High, Actors Touring Company, China Plate, Eclipse Theatre, English Touring Theatre, Fuel, Graeae, HighTide, Improbable, New Earth Theatre, Northern Broadsides, Stockroom, Paines Plough, Pentabus Theatre, Pilot Theatre, Tamasha and Theatre Centre, alongside Sheffield Theatres, HOME Manchester, UK Theatre, Independent Theatre Council, and Inc Arts.
On reading the rider, Keith Saha, Co-Artistic Director of 20 Stories High, said,
“The Anti- Racism Touring Rider is a game changer for the arts. For artists, participants, audiences and staff. For years we have been battling systemic racism formally and informally on a personal and an organisational level. This blueprint not only helps ease the emotional and psychological burdens we have been carrying as people of colour, but also offers venues support aswell as holding them to account. Change is coming.”
Amanda Parker of Inc Arts added,
“Inc Arts welcomes the Anti-Racism Touring Rider: it’s vital that there is shared and widespread understanding of our collective expectations and our responsibilities in all our places of work and the Rider makes this clear. It’s why we are pleased to include the recommendations of the Rider in Unlock so that we can help track and chart sign up and engagement with it in all touring practices throughout the cultural and creative sector.”
Touring companies, venues and freelancers across the country fed into the consultation process for the rider, resulting in a 8-page document detailing actions and suggestions that producers and venue managers commit to when touring a show. It has been compiled with the aim it is applicable to any touring production or company, irrespective of scale or remit, and covers actions to be used as a baseline leading up to touring. It provides a 360-approach encompassing all aspects of the production – from the first engagements with venues, wellbeing and pastoral care, marketing, and throughout all aspects of the run. The rider is one of the actions listed on Unlock, an anti-racism toolkit from Inc Arts for recruitment, leadership and the workplace.
Sebastian Cater, Head of UK Theatre added,
“We welcome the Touring Rider as a useful contribution to the discussions around making our venues safer, more inclusive and more welcoming. We look forward to consulting with our membership on future developments of the Rider as a practical anti-racist resource for venues, touring companies and producers.”
Charlotte Jones, CEO of Independent Theatre Council commented,
“ITC is delighted to support the widespread use of this much-needed Anti-Racist Touring Rider. It will be a vital tool in promoting best practice and protecting practitioners on tour. Many thanks to our visionary member companies and all the contributors who have worked so hard and thoughtfully to develop this great resource.”
Freelance Actor Amber James said,
“This Rider is a vital step forward for touring theatre. A crucial, much needed, true commitment to change. As actors, welcome and accept all audience members each night with open arms, it is therefore essential that theatre companies and venues commit to us, as global majority actors, in the same way: with acceptance, care, appreciation, and anti-racist actions and attitudes. At every level. Everywhere.”