Category: Industry News, Support, commitment, stakeholders, social responsibility
ITV and BBC partner for the first TV focused Disability Confident event, hosted at Coronation Street
On Thursday 14 July, ITV and BBC partnered for the first TV focused Disability Confident event at Coronation Street in Manchester. The Disability Confident Conference 2016 aimed to build confidence and provide support to production companies, with the goal of breaking down barriers to better representing disability both on-screen and within the industry’s wider workforce.
ITV is a Disability Confident partner and Thursday’s event was a direct result of a pledge made as part of that commitment; to host an event to engage key stakeholders, namely the independent production community and support them in meeting ITV’s Social Partnership expectations - the third element of the commissioning process, designed to encourage conversations at the very start of the programme-making process, around inclusive programming, inclusive workforce, environmental impact and social responsibility.
Opening the day Julian Bellamy, MD ITV Studios said:
“It’s really great to be here today and to host the first Media Focused Disability Confident conference and it’s particularly special to be here at Coronation Street, a show that has been a trailblazer and champion for diversity on and off-screen for many years now. Across our industry we know that we’re in a really privileged position, reaching millions of viewers each week with an unrivalled ability to raise awareness and change public perceptions through our shows. And that bestows a very special responsibility and a very real opportunity for us to encourage, inspire and effect change”.
Philippa Bird, BBC Diversity Lead said:
“It's fantastic to be here at Coronation Street, joining with industry partners to move things forward. Today is about forming connections, sharing best practice and making commitments. We're pulling apart the whole production chain - from writing and commissioning through to casting and accessibility - and challenging ourselves to do better for disabled talent and our audiences”. The BBC is focussed more than ever on improving inclusivity and
accessibility for disabled people. In addition to setting stretching new on screen and workforce targets, the BBC’s new Diversity and Inclusion Strategy commits to greater collaboration with
broadcast partners such as ITV.
Hosts, guest speakers and panelists included Cherylee Houston (Actress), Robbie Sandison (Head of Production, Coronation Street), Kieran Roberts (Creative Director ‐ Drama North, ITV), Helen Bullough (Head of CBBC Production), Paul Carter (Little Man Media), Tony Prescott (Director), Kate Green MP, Victoria Fea (Controller of Drama, ITV), Oliver Kent (Executive Producer, Holby City & Casualty), Liz Stoll (Casting Director, Holby City), Melissa Johns (Actress), Miranda Wayland (Social Partnership Executive, ITV) and Joe Sheridan (On-screen Manager, ITV SignPost).
Helping to ensure the day had a real and tangible impact, attendees were encouraged to commit to long-term progress by making their own Disability Confident pledges. Kieran Roberts, ITV’s Creative Director ‐ Drama North, pledged to build on the success of previous Disability focused casting events that resulted in breakthrough talent such as actor Liam Bairstow, the first actor with Down's Syndrome to join the Coronation Street cast. Coronation Street pledged to hold further casting events, with Emmerdale committing to do the same. Robbie Sanderson, Head of Production at Coronation Street pledged to personally host a shadowing placement, highlighting how individual contributions can also make a difference, and the importance of breaking down barriers not just on-screen but behind the scenes.
BBC pledged to take the baton, and committed to host a future event for the television industry in the North West to continue the conversation and build upon the momentum of the day. They also pledged, as part of their wider Diversity and Inclusion Strategy, to the ring fencing of 10% of new entry-level trainee and apprentice opportunities for people with disabilities. They will continue to
work hard to attract and support the best in disabled on-screen talent such as James Ballardie, Adepitan and Nikki Fox, who joins Watchdog’s presenting team this Autumn.
Pledges were made by a number of the invited companies, and these will be tracked and supported through the Department for Work and Pensions’ Disability Confident scheme.
Recognising that the event was an important step but that continuing the conversation and remaining committed is critical to better representing disability in the industry, Kieran Roberts of ITV said “ITV is proud to have been the facilitator of this event but that doesn’t mean we claim to have all the answers - we’ve made progress in the past few years but we know we still have a long way to go”.
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