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Acting – the stats you need to know

30 Apr

By Elli Donajgrodzki and Erica Buist

Equity has published a report by Creative & Cultural Skills on the state of the performing arts industry. They reported that there are 5,480 businesses and 101,593 people working in the performing arts sector. Of these, a minimum of 34% are employed in onstage occupations like acting or dancing – such as yourselves, dear readers.

If you are one of these, you should read this report to find out the state of the industry and where you stand within it.

The Figures

Did you know that the UK has the largest cultural economy in the world, employing more than 678,000 people and contributing almost £25 billion to the UK economy each year?

Did you know that in the performing arts industry, gender is almost exactly equal (49% women) but only 6% of the industry is non-white?

Some of the findings even show a steady improvement in the situation of actors, despite the recession. It’s still the hardest profession in the world – but at least employment is on the up! Employment in the performing arts grew by 20% between 2006-7 and 2008-9.

Of course, the report confirms you need to watch those pennies – 73% of people in the performing arts industry earn less than £20,000 a year.

In the Wings has collated some of the most interesting findings for you below. Feel free to contact us if you have questions, or read the full report here.

Who is the typical performing artist? How do you fit in?
As you can see, 58% of performing artists are self-employed compared to only 13% of the rest of the population.
47% are under 40 years of age, showing that acting is still a fairly young profession. Which of you will replace Judi Dench and Bill Nighy?

Employers in performing arts are concerned that formal education doesn’t adequately prepare applicants for what is actually required of them in the perfoming arts industry. Applicants who enter the industry are unprepared in the following ways:

Looking at the graph below, it seems clear the closer you are to London, the more work you are likely to find. Of course, if you feel like setting up a performing arts business in the North East, you may bring the statistics up!

The Top 10 Blogs for Actors

25 Jan

In no particular order, these are the blogs that we think all actors should be checking out on a regular basis. Disagree? Let us know who you would add to the list.

1) The Stage Blog – A collection of blogs from the leading theatrical publication, including posts on education and training and news.

2) Resting Actress – Hilarious posts about the trials and tribulations of being a resting actress. See her guest post here.

3) The Acting Blog – Expert advice from Scottish acting coach Mark Westbrook.

4) UK Actor’s Tweetup – A must for all wannabes, the Tweetup team arrange networking events for aspiring actors. Look them up on Twitter too.

5) Spotlight – Posts from the top casting directory featuring news, interviews and blogs by actors.

6) Lenka’s Acting Journey – Czech actress Lenka blogs about acting abroad.

7) Industry Hub – Struggling to become more savvy with social networking? This blog is promoting the UK acting scene using social media, while also providing handy tips.

8) Guardian Stage – It’s important to keep up with all the latest theatre news, and the Guardian does a great job of analysing the biggest stories.

9) A Younger Theatre – A collection of blogs from the team at Younger Theatre – which is run exclusively by under 26 year-olds who are passionate about theatre.

10) Us! We hope you’re enjoying what we’re doing but would love to hear if you have any comments or suggestions. You can email us at, follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook.

We know there are loads more brilliant blogs – if you don’t agree with us tell us who you would add.

Picture by crafty_dame from Flickr via a CC Licence.

The upstart crow: why is Anonymous getting Shakespeare fans so hot and bothered?

26 Oct

Shakespeare sign

The new Roland Emmerich film, Anonymous, has reopened the perennial debate about whether Shakespeare’s plays were really written by  a Warwickshire-born actor with no university education. Emmerich’s film, written by John Orloff, subscribes to the well-worn “Oxfordian” conspiracy theory in which Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford (Rhys Ifans), was responsible for the canon.

Temperatures run high whenever Shakespearean authorship is called into question. Pub and road signs in Warwickshire (and even as far afield as Southport) referring to Shakespeare have been covered up in protest. The campaign serves as a reminder that this is not just an academic question: the revenues from tourism of Stratford’s theatres – not to mention museums, restaurants and pubs – depend on it.

Shakespeare remains a major driver of the arts economy in Britain, and a major employer of British actors. Next year, 50 arts organisations will take part in the World Shakespeare Festival (WSF), a central plank of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad. But even in an ordinary week such as this one, London alone is playing host to productions of The Tempest, Macbeth, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, and the Reduced Shakespeare Company’s “Complete Works”.

The Oxfordian theory was first proposed by the colourfully named J Thomas Looney. High-profile supporters of the theory today include actors Mark Rylance (former Artistic Director of the Globe) and Sir Derek Jacobi (who narrates Anonymous).

The theory’s detractors say it stems from snobbery. Stanley Wells, Chairman of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, says: “They would like to feel that the author of these great works must have been a member of the aristocracy. It’s also often due to ignorance, the feeling that a man born in this town of Stratford couldn’t have had enough education to write those plays which is just not true.”

The Oxfordians doubt that these plays could have been written by a mere actor. But many who have worked closely with Shakespearean texts feel they must have been, that they show a deep knowledge of the actor’s craft.

What do you think?

Picture by Nelson Kuniyoshi, on Flickr, via a Creative Commons licence.