An Open Letter to the Culture Secretary

28 May 2020

The Rt Hon Olivier Dowden CBE
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport 
100 Parliament Street
SW1 2BQ 

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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