Levelling up in the Theatre Industry: A Birmingham Rep Perspective

On January 18, Rachael Thomas, Commercial Director of the Birmingham Rep, gave an online talk about the theatre and its cultural and economic relevance to the city. Birmingham Rep, she told us, is owned by The Sir Barry Jackson Trust, a registered charity and strives to keep the founder’s pioneering and innovative spirit alive in the 21st century. The first repertory theatre of its kind, the first theatre company to perform Shakespeare in modern dress and the first to inaugurate world premieres.

The company employs 1500 – 2000 people not including freelancers, who busy themselves from day to day building sets, making costumes and designing lighting effects whilst the actors are occupied rehearsing in their own studio space.
The Rep receives an annual grant from Arts Council England (ACE) of £8.7 million which hasn’t changed over 10 years and also a grant from the City Council.

The company is intensely aware that it works in the most diverse city in the UK, with 66% of its citizens under 45, the youngest city in Europe and needs to reflect this demographic in its employment policies and in its artistic output. The company is rising to the challenge by promoting its offering to the city’s young people where barriers of deprivation and an impoverished state school curriculum have to be overcome, with the message that a career in the theatre is not just the preserve of the white privately educated. It is undertaking this with career development strategies and with productions that reflect the diversity of lived experience in the city.

Thank you, Rachael, for giving us an insider account of an institution proud to represent a modern forward-looking Birmingham.

Chris Vaughan