London theatre sparks row with 50k-a-year job ad encouraging applicants from ‘global majority’ and ‘criminal class’

21 May 2024, 13:02 | Updated: 22 May 2024, 15:16

London theatre sparks row with 50k-a-year job ad encouraging applicants from ‘global majority’ and ‘criminal class’
London theatre sparks row with 50k-a-year job ad encouraging applicants from ‘global majority’ and ‘criminal class’. Picture: Alamy/Camden People's Theatre

By Christian Oliver

A London theatre has come under fire after advertising for a chief executive from a 'criminal class and/or underclass' and 'global majority'.

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The job advert for the Camden People's Theatre - which received £250,000 of taxpayer funding from Arts Council England during the coronavirus pandemic - offers a salary of £45,000-£50,000 a year.

The theatre, a registered charity, says it would "welcome and encourage" applications from "working-class, benefit class, criminal class and/or underclass".

It also called for members of the “global majority” to apply, which the theatre said included “people of Black Caribbean, Black African, South Asian, East Asian, South East Asian, Middle Eastern, Arab, Latinx, Jewish, Romany and Irish Traveller heritage”.

Any applicants who "self-identify as disabled" would automatically be invited for an interview if they met the essential criteria, the advert said.

A billboard outside the Camden People's Theatre, Hampstead Road, London
A billboard outside the Camden People's Theatre, Hampstead Road, London. Picture: Alamy

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The posting for an "Artistic Director and Joint CEO" has now attracted rebuke and mockery on social media, with users branding the advertisement and its terms for class as "Victorian".

“Working class being lumped in with criminal class is awful,” one said.

Others on X, formerly Twitter, said the posting was "offensive to the point of reading like a parody”.

Another wrote: "In trying to include everyone, they have managed to offend everyone with the wording. I would have loved to be a fly on the wall to hear how they came to this decision."

A fourth said: "Who identifies as ‘criminal class?’ The Krays?”

The job advertisement also attracted scorn from Conservative MP Neil O’Brien who took issue with taxpayer money being spent on a chief executive theatre job with a possible £50,000 a year salary.

“What if...being a criminal is bad?," he wrote.

The advertisement is also encouraging deaf, neurodivergent, and LGBTQ+ people to apply.

It comes after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak urged businesses to recruit ex-criminals as part of his £2.1 million 'Operation Prosper' employment scheme to help veterans secure high-paid jobs

Accepting there was "some concern raised around the wording" of the advertisement, a spokesperson for Camden People's Theatre told LBC: "As the name suggests, Camden People’s Theatre takes access and inclusion really seriously.

"We constantly consult on and modify what we do and how we communicate to make sure we're welcoming and accessible to as many people as possible - especially those who are excluded from the arts, more so now than ever. That's the spirit in which this terminology was used - and we are not the only organisation to use it.

"We regret that it has caused offence in some quarters and we are currently reviewing its use, to make sure we continue to be as inclusive and as respectful as possible.

"We also warmly welcome the interest in arts and social inclusion that the reporting around this issue implies – and we hope to see it sustained. The conversation around access to and representation in the arts, and indeed in the media, is a vital one, and we're committed to continue learning from and contributing to it."

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