tiata fahodzi and The Stage launch backstage photo library

This week in collaboration with The Stage we launched a new photo library featuring more than 200 images of people of colour in technical theatre roles, in order to improve the diversity of pictures used to depict backstage theatre workers. It’s free to use and features stock images covering a range of roles, including backstage, wardrobe and design.

The archive was created to be a resource for the theatre sector, and we actively encourage other companies to add representative stock images to the collection under a Creative Commons licence, so that publications and theatre can use them freely.

You can find and use the images here. The initial stock photos available in the library were taken at Watford Palace Theatre by photographer Alex Brenner.

Our artistic director natalie ibu described the impetus and context for the project in an article in The Stage this week;  “In the fight for a rich, diverse and representative sector, it can feel like the change isn’t coming quickly enough or with a nuanced and thoughtful understanding of the ways multiple identities cross – leaving some people completely out of vision and out of the conversation.It can feel like there’s so much to be done – so many big strategic and systemic transformations – that we can miss the small, impactful things that we can each do.

“This project came about as a result of an idle Saturday scrolling Twitter (and noticing the unrepresentative state of stock photos), an openness of The Stage to see the role they could play in bringing about change and Tiata Fahodzi, The Stage and Watford Palace Theatre’s let’s-just-get-it-done can-do attitude. 
“When we pay attention to those who are most excluded, to those intersectional identities that are continually missing, then we embrace more people. We acknowledge those who do exist and inspire those yet to make a home in theatre because – if you can’t see it, you can’t be it. Last year, you’d struggle to find a stock photo of a person of colour in a technical role, now you’ll have at least 200 photos of people of colour (who are also represent the gender spectrum, disability and religion) to choose from. It’s a start. Let’s make sure it isn’t the end.”

The Stage editor Alistair Smith added: “This image library will allow us to better depict the range of people who work backstage, but we were also keen to make sure that the resource be made available to the whole sector and other publishers. We hope that others will add to it and this can become a hugely useful tool for everyone.”

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