Opinion: Inclusion and diversity in Scottish theatre

Opinion: Inclusion and diversity in Scottish theatre

Mele Broomes in VOID / credit: Tom Forster

With another Fringe behind us, does its ethos of championing multicultural and marginalised perspectives remain?

While not entirely inclusive in all facets, the Fringe annually pulls in a wealth of BAME talent, with productions featuring individuals and groups from a range of countries, backgrounds and experiences. But what happens when September rolls around and we go back to our regularly scheduled programmes?

In the world of theatre in Scotland, the autumn seasons annually promise genuinely interesting, modern and innovative productions. But in comparison to the variety of multicultural and marginalised voices making and presenting work at the Fringe, it's fair to question whether theatre in Scotland truly reflects cultural diversity in a meaningful way.

Of course, it's not the responsibility of individual productions to carry the weight of inclusion, but the wider theatre community should and could be doing more to ensure that theatre in Scotland is a welcoming and encouraging space for people of colour and that the barriers to entry are diminished. In Glasgow, Project X, which is developed by lead artists Mele Broomes, Ashanti Harris and creative producer Rhea Lewis, celebrates and champions dance and performance within the African Caribbean diaspora in Scotland through workshops and more. Project X is just one example of the positive steps being taken to broaden perceptions and representation in the arts, with artist-led annual performance festival Buzzcut being another.

Orla O'Loughlin, who is stepping down as artistic director of the Traverse, has been a great champion of equality and representation in Scottish theatre and her departure may be a cause for concern for many who have benefited from her forward-thinking outlook. But while there is certainly work to be done, the conversation has shifted and will continue to shift as long as adequate support is given to the artists and creatives that continually attempt to increase awareness and debate. Ultimately, theatre in Scotland doesn't have to be diverse and inclusive just one month out of the year.

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