Coming from a working class or low-income background can be challenging, especially in an industry that is highly competitive and in which many workers are employed on a freelance basis.
Working as a freelancer means that you will be working on contracts and there may be periods of time where you have gaps in between those contracts. For someone from a working class background, this can be a more challenging time compared to others as you may not have the financial support from family to help you through to your next contract. However, there are plenty of other jobs that many theatre industry professionals do in between their contracted theatre work to help pay their rent and bills.
Take a look at both blogs How to be a freelancer and What jobs do successful theatre industry professionals do in between theatre jobs to earn? to help understand how to financially support yourself through a career in theatre.
For many jobs in theatre, you do not need a degree and can work your way up the career ladder instead. However, if you want to study and learn new skills then there are plenty of funding and scholarships available for those from a low income household. Take a look at our list of funding opportunities here.
More recently there has been a rise in opportunities for cheaper theatre tickets. For example, Mousetrap Theatre Projects offers highly discounted tickets and the National Theatre has plenty of £15 tickets available for each show.
One organisation whose work you might want to follow is COMMON, the leading national arts organisation supporting the UK theatre industry to achieve greater intersectional class diversity. They aim to make theatre widely accessible to those from working and under-class backgrounds, whether they’re artists, audiences or communities, and strive for greater equality, inclusion and representation across the industry.
There is also Open Door, which offer the opportunity for mentoring advice and pay for audition fees for the top drama schools for those from low income backgrounds. Audition fees for drama schools are around £40 - £50 each, so it can become expensive if you apply for a few different schools. Open Door can take away that expense for successful applicants.
There are opportunities out there to help you get your foot in the door if you are from a working class background. It shouldn’t be something that hinders you from pursuing your dream career, it’s just knowing where to look to gain that support and Get into Theatre is the first stepping stone for letting you know about those opportunities.
Photo: Tristram Kenton
Published: 04 March 2019