Tax breaks would fo­cus minds on real di­ver­sity in film and TV

The Guardian - Journal - - Letters -

We call for the in­tro­duc­tion of a film and tele­vi­sion “rep­re­sen­ta­tion tax re­lief” to in­crease the em­ploy­ment of women, dis­abled peo­ple and peo­ple from black, Asian and mi­nor­ity eth­nic (BAME) back­grounds be­hind the cam­era in the Bri­tish film and tele­vi­sion in­dus­tries.

True rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the di­ver­sity of the UK isn’t just about what we see on our screens but also the peo­ple writ­ing, di­rect­ing, film­ing and work­ing be­hind the cam­era. Over the years some of the most im­por­tant Bri­tish films and tele­vi­sion have been writ­ten and di­rected by Bri­tain’s tal­ented fe­male, BAME and dis­abled cre­atives. They en­rich the cre­ativ­ity of the UK and add to our cul­tural her­itage, but un­for­tu­nately they con­tinue to be the ex­cep­tion rather than the rule.

We be­lieve the im­ple­men­ta­tion of a rep­re­sen­ta­tion tax re­lief is nec­es­sary be­cause di­ver­sity in im­por­tant sec­tions of the UK film and tele­vi­sion in­dus­try is in cri­sis:

• A re­port by Di­rec­tors UK re­vealed only 2.31% of UK tele­vi­sion is made by di­rec­tors of BAME back­ground.

• Ac­cord­ing to the Bri­tish Film In­sti­tute, only 3% of the UK film in­dus­try’s pro­duc­tion and post­pro­duc­tion work­force are BAME.

• Over the last decade women made up only 13.6% of work­ing film di­rec­tors in the UK, de­spite mak­ing up the ma­jor­ity of film stu­dents.

• Only 0.3% of the to­tal UK film work­force and 4.5% of the tele­vi­sion work­force are dis­abled, well short of the 18% in the pop­u­la­tion who con­sider them­selves dis­abled.

These num­bers are shock­ing.

Tax re­lief is a tried and tested mech­a­nism to in­crease em­ploy­ment and ac­tiv­ity in the UK film in­dus­try.

A rep­re­sen­ta­tion tax re­lief would give UK film and TV pro­duc­tions tax re­lief if they meet three of the four fol­low­ing cri­te­ria: (1) The di­rec­tor is a wo­man and/or dis­abled and/or BAME. (2) The writer is a wo­man and/ or dis­abled and/or BAME. (3) The di­rec­tor of pho­tog­ra­phy is a wo­man and/or dis­abled and/or BAME. (4) 50% of staff spend be­hind the cam­era is on fe­male staff, or 14% on BAME staff, or 18% on dis­abled staff.

Com­plaints over the lack of di­ver­sity in the cre­ative in­dus­tries have seen things slowly be­gin to change, but the time has come for more sub­stan­tive mea­sures, and real change needs to be un­der­writ­ten by law. The mea­sures we are call­ing for are long over­due and will en­sure the UK has the most di­verse and vi­brant film and TV in­dus­tries in the world. Lenny Henry, Kwame Kwei-Armah, Adrian Lester, Jodie Whit­taker,

Jim Broad­bent, Sharon Hor­gan, Chi­we­tel Ejio­for, Thandie New­ton, David Oyelowo, Floella Ben­jamin, Neil Gaiman, Harry Hill, Meera Syal, Doreen Lawrence, Mica Paris, Lucy Preb­ble, Ade Ade­pitan and 63 oth­ers (see gu.com/let­ters)

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