English actor Idris Elba – and a few dozen of his famous friends – have respectfully requested that the British TV industry spend more money on programs for ethnic minorities.
In a firm open letter published Wednesday in The Guardian, the star of The Wire and the U.K. crime drama Luther and his colleagues urge the BBC, ITV and other broadcasters to start putting funds into black, Asian and other minority ethnic (BAME) programming.
The letter opens with, "We are dismayed at the poor numbers of black, Asian and minority ethnic people both on our screens and working behind the camera."
Along with Elba, the letter is signed by no fewer than 80 celebrities, including James Bond star Daniel Craig, actors Bill Nighy, Matt Lucas and Emma Thompson and renowned graphic artist Neil Gaiman.
The letter points out that only five per cent of those employees currently working in the U.K. creative industries have minority backgrounds, even though minorities comprise 12.5 per cent of Britain's total population.
For the record, the letter was written and sent to The Guardian before the recent commitment from British pay-TV service BSkyB to increase their ethnic minority staff – including on-air talent – to at least 20 per cent by the end of next year.
Earlier this summer, BBC director-general Tony Hall made a similar promise to boost onscreen representation of minority ethnic groups from 10.4 per cent to 15 per cent by 2017. Hall also pledged that BBC staffing would increase from 8.3 per cent to 15 per cent by 2020.
But those long-range plans "are not sufficiently radical to effect significant change," according to the letter.
Instead, "We propose, therefore, a solution that would almost immediately stimulate growth throughout the BAME creative community: a ringfenced pot of money for BAME programs."
According to the Oxford Dictionary, ringfencing is defined as protecting a particular sum of money by putting restrictions on it so that it can only be used for a particular purpose.
The letter suggests that ringfencing funding for minority programs was a better move than establishing quotas since it would put the focus on "quality of programming, not quantity."
In the view of letter signees, ringfencing would also "create a more stable space for BAME talent on screen and behind the camera."
And the letter closes off by saying, "The effect of this fund would be to engender and encourage television that would reflect one of Britain's greatest strengths – our diversity."
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Source: New York Post
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Source: New York Post
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Source: Hollywood Reporter