Blog: Turn2us supports launch of RTYDS initiative



Financial insecurity in the theatre sector

The UK is a hot bed of creative talent, producing some of the best talent in the world. 
Yet too many are unable to break through or indeed thrive in the creative industries, as a result of economic barriers and financial insecurity. This disproportionately impacts people from working-class backgrounds.

Recent data tells us that approximately 6% of the UK workforce is employed in creative industries. Research by the Creative Industries Federation found that only 12% of the creative workforce comes from a working-class background.

The theatre sector particularly faces the most glaring underrepresentation of people from working-class and low socio-economic backgrounds. The high costs of formal drama training, alongside continued expectations to work for free and precarious job prospects, disproportionately impact these groups and prove prohibitive.

Establishing and sustaining a career in theatre is increasingly hard, due to irregular paid work and other systemic barriers. This not only stifles the diversity of new voices and fresh perspectives but also entrenches systemic inequalities, making the arts less accessible and inclusive.

Supporting Regional Theatre Young Director Scheme’s new Fair Play initiative 

Turn2us is proud to be collaborating with the Regional Theatre Young Director Scheme (RTYDS), in support of the launch of Fair Play, their major new initiative to tackle socio-economic inequity in theatre, to be developed over two years.

RTYDS has said that Fair Play will seek to challenge the systemic financial, social, cultural and organisational barriers that prevent theatre makers from low socio-economic backgrounds from sustaining careers and fulfilling their potential as leaders.

'It will bring all its experience, processes, and networks together to support creatives from low socio-economic backgrounds and to empower regional theatres to use their own agency to tackle inequity and to ensure the future leadership of British theatre is more reflective of our society.’ 

Turn2us reaches almost four million people impacted by financial insecurity each year through its grant programmes and tools such as the Turn2us Benefits Calculator and Turn2us Grants Search.

We are delighted to also share our expertise with RTYDS in the co-creation of a leaflet which provides information to those navigating benefits while self-employed, and artists and the organisations working with them.

Working together on this information leaflet, our aim was to provide clear, accessible and tailored guidance for self-employed creatives from low socio-economic backgrounds, creatives experiencing financial hardship and creatives in receipt of benefits.

“Navigating the benefit system can be daunting and overwhelming yet is a daily reality for many working class, economically marginalised and disabled artists. This information should be widely available and accessible so that artists can focus on accessing opportunities and building their careers, knowing they are not alone. In preparation for our Fair Play project, we’re proud to partner with leading charity Turn2us who recognise the challenges that unpredictable self-employment and the benefit system can bring and to work together to provide information and support for those it impacts most.”
-    Caitriona Shoobridge, Co-Creative Lead (Fair Play)

We look forward to continuing our partnership with the team at RTYDS and enabling more of us across the UK to thrive in the creative industries.

Read our Self-Employment & Benefits information leaflet (PDF, 277KB) and share with your networks.

About RTYDS and Fair Play

RTYDS is the UK’s foremost programme of paid professional development for theatre makers and directors. For 60 years we have provided bespoke training opportunities to artists from the earliest stages of a career right up to leadership development.  Our alumni are changing British theatre; from Daniel Bailey (The Bush) to Natalie Ibu (Northern Stage), to Matthew Xia (ATC). 

Fair Play is RTYDS’ major new project launching in 2025 that will aim to tackle socio-economic inequality in theatre. If you are an artist or organisation wanting to work with RTYDS, you can get in touch with them on their website.


"DCMS Sectors Economic Estimates 2020: Employment" report.
Creative Industries Federation, "Creative Diversity Report," 2020.
Office for Students, "Fees, loans, and finance," 2023.