As with all creative, technical, backstage or ‘behind the scenes’ disciplines in theatre, ‘Video’ has a problem with a lack of ethnic diversity and representation. And the challenges of making an industry-wide effort is complicated due to the fact many of us are freelancers that have, until now had individual, not collective agency.
People are tired of the discussion, tired of diversity panels that get nothing done, tired of endless inquiries.
The Video Code aims to take action, to be an accountable standard by which our working and educational environments can be judged in the video community. Signatories make commitments to create and work within diverse environments, engaging and challenging colleagues on the issue of diversity in our workplace and partaking in educational outreach. The Code aims to remove existing barriers and provide supported routes of access to those looking to enter and make all sectors of Video a level playing field.
The Video Code itself has been started by an assortment of practitioners working across all corners of video; Programmers, Engineers, Educators, Designers and more. We are united by a common experience of the lack of diversity within our field and the wider industry.
We are working on a framework of practice which will be created and will evolve through a democratic and independently evaluated process. We have planned a three-stage consultation process which will engage with Equality, Diversity and Inclusion consultants, individuals in the video community and organisations, companies and studios linked to video in live events. We are also organising meetings with other stakeholders in the industry - agents, producers, directors and other creatives, for their input as well.
Our presence across multiple sectors gives us real power if we choose to act together, we have a responsibility to push for change both within our departments and any creative teams of which we are a part. The Video Code membership itself is currently looking to expand its ethnic diversity, to hear from more underrepresented voices in the industry.
An initiative like this isn’t trying to be unfair, cruel or take work away from talented people. It's not saying that working within the theatre should be easy and unchallenging, but it is saying that it shouldn't be made harder due to the colour of your skin. The days of an ALL white creative and technical team should come to an end.
This problem has a long road ahead of it. We need to look at why this lack of diversity exists as it does today. What is stopping people from accessing our industry and how can these roadblocks be removed? From drama schools recruitment processes and a lack of visibility about our craft, through to schools deprived of funding being forced to cut their arts programs. These people who could one day be our collaborators are being held back before they have even had a chance to see behind the curtain.
Different disciplines have their specific problems. We are starting in our own house with The Video Code, but hope the future will see the creation of other codes, The Lighting Code, The Scenic Code, The Costume Code. It’s time to take the energy and conversations arising from this moment in time, and focus it on diversity.
Live entertainment has a systemic racism problem. But this is a problem that can be fixed by those in positions of power and therefore, privilege. Those who have benefited most from the existing system can be a driving force for the change that needs to happen. We have a real opportunity before we return to the new theatrical landscape to reshape it.
There is a world of talented people, with unique perspectives, histories, ideas and stories that are silenced by our current issues. It is time we heard their voices.
To this end, we’re excited to extend the ideas of co-production and co-authorship that lie at the foundation of the way we are working within The Video Code - announcing a series of open discussions with the Scene/Change community around these issues. Our disciplines are interconnected and integral to one another - as they build the visual world of a show in collaboration. In the spirit of this relationship, here are the subjects of the upcoming zoom sessions we are organising as part of a series of Scene/Change x The Video Code events:
1) Imagining New Working Practices: Dismantling Hierarchies, Reorganising Theatre and Encouraging Industry Partners in Systemic Change
2) Sending the Ladder Down: Opening Access and Mentoring for Graduates
and Young People
3) Building New Worlds: Understanding and Deepening the Collaboration between Set and Video Design
by The Video Code