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The Industry

Spotlight and Equity: a vision for making casting fairer and more inclusive

Spotlight has always been committed to ensuring that professional performers of all backgrounds have the opportunity to be cast in productions for live or recorded media.

A successful casting process is crucial for the UK creative industries. With this in mind Equity, in collaboration with Spotlight, the CDG and the PMA, have written a manifesto for their vision of how the process of casting can be made clearer, fairer, less stressful and more inclusive for everyone. It’ll be used by Equity to seek the changes that will ensure the continued success of our creative industries.

All partners in the casting process face pressure to deliver professional casting standards, often within a short timescale and tight budget in an environment where script preparation is time-consuming and the cost of travel is high. Self-taping is becoming more popular and is an opportunity to widen access to the casting process. Women, black, South Asian, East Asian, minority ethnic, LGBTQ+, Deaf and disabled, and older artists continue to experience discrimination across the industry. Along with this, social class remains a barrier to accessing and sustaining a career.

The manifesto below is a vision of how casting can be made better for everyone.

Casting Preparation

  • Job advertisements

Where roles are advertised, the casting breakdown should be presented in the most inclusive way possible.

  • Inclusive casting

A diverse range of performers should be auditioned for every production, including voice-only performances. Greater consideration should be given to specific characteristics for any given role

  • Local talent

Consideration should be given to professional talent from where the production is made.

  • Access

The building where auditions are held should be accessible, and reasonable adjustments (a legal requirement) should be made to the audition process to ensure all performers can participate.

  • Contract

It should be clear what kind of contract is being offered.

Before the audition

  • Submissions

Submissions made should be relevant to the role and performers’ information should be up-to-date.

  • Access

A question requesting the access requirements of performers should be included in every invitation to audition.

  • Nudity/simulated sex

No sex act should be requested at any audition. A performer should not be requested to undress in whole or in part unless a mutually agreed observer is present.

  • Professionalism

Equity members have a responsibility to turn up on time, be prepared and give the earliest possible notice of cancellation.
All involved in the casting process have a responsibility to ensure performers are given the opportunity to prepare and give their best.

  • Preparation time

Castings should be planned, where possible, with a realistic time frame to allow casting directors and agents enough time to enable performers to prepare properly.

  • Cost

Reasonable consideration should be given to the cost to performers when attending auditions.

  • Caring responsibilities

The caring responsibilities of performers should be recognised and, wherever practicable, accommodated.

At the Audition

  • Self-taping

Performers should be given clear direction on what is required and a realistic time frame. There should also be a timely acknowledgment of its receipt.

  • Time-keeping

Every attempt should be made by all concerned to keep to the agreed audition time.

  • Data protection

Information provided on the head sheet or the artist declaration form or equivalent must be treated in accordance with data protection law.

  • Appropriate questions

In line with the law and with specific exceptions, performers should not be asked for personal information, verbally or in writing, as part of the audition. This includes actual age, ethnicity, disability, pregnancy, marital/civil partnership status or sexual orientation.

  • Filming auditions

If an audition is to be filmed, the film (or self-tape) should not be used or distributed for any other purpose without the consent of the performer.

After the Audition

  • Outcome

Performers/Agents should be informed when they have not got a role at the earliest opportunity.

  • Pencilling

A pencil is not a firm booking. All parties should be clear about the number of performers pencilled and the time frame for a decision to be made. A pencil can be withdrawn by performers or agents without repercussions. Notice of withdrawal of a pencil by any party should be given as soon as possible.

  • Recalls

All those who are essential to casting decisions should work with performers to minimise the number of recalls.

Spotlight’s statement:

“Spotlight has always been committed to ensuring that professional performers of all backgrounds have the opportunity to be cast in productions for live or recorded media. We aim to develop tools and services which promote a diverse and inclusive casting process. By supporting the Equity Manifesto for Casting and working with partners such as the CDGPMA and CPMA, we aim to use our influence to encourage industry decision-makers to consider the most diverse range of talent when casting a production.

We work to ensure that Spotlight gives casting directors access to a range of performers who represent society and the stories that are being told. We are committed to working with organisations which encourage people of all backgrounds to consider a career in the performing arts, to provide a constant flow of new and diverse talent into our industry. We support performers throughout different stages of their career, doing all we can to help them to continue working professionally. We are committed to developing our services and resources to allow all users of Spotlight to take advantage of them, regardless of any specific access requirements.”

If you have any questions regarding this manifesto, do get in touch with Equity.