On 24 September, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) announced a series of changes to target a lack of diversity in their membership and voting system.
These changes come as a result of a 7-month internal review, arriving after the most recent BAFTA ceremony was criticised for its all-white nominees in all acting categories and for not nominating any women for best directors, despite strong contenders in all categories.
The report was headlined by ‘The Steering Group’, a combination of BAFTA staff and entertainment executives from different media companies. The aim of the report was to “identify and put solutions in place for the 2021 Awards and beyond, to include all aspects of the voting processes, membership and the rules around campaigning”. It also takes into account world events and the issues they raise that have occurred since the start of the review, including the COVID-19 pandemic and the aftermath of the shooting of George Floyd.
The report concluded by recommending strong adjustments to the processes of membership, voting, campaigning, and industry measures. The recommended total 120 new changes across the board, though the report acknowledges that the institutional issues within BAFTA will be unable to be resolved through specific alterations alone, and recommends tracking and continuous reviews of these changes in order to monitor their impact.
Some of the major changes to be announced include:
- Adding 1000 new members over the next two years, predominantly from under-represented groups.
- A compulsory survey focusing on issues of representation to be sent out to all voting members.
- An increase of nominations to the acting and directing categories, from 5 nominees to 6.
- Mandatory bias training for all voting members.
- Changes to campaigning aimed at ensuring a fairer consideration of all films, regardless of marketing budget.
- A longer voting process, with streamlined access to all nominated films to ensure smaller works get viewed by members.
- Studios can no longer nominate actors for both leading and supporting roles.
The full report is available on the BAFTA website.
BAFTA chair Krishnendu Majumdar, who was also a member of The Steering Group, described his support for the new measures. “Representation matters and we’ve all been starkly reminded of this with the rise of the global anti-racist movement. This creative renewal is not just about changes to the awards and membership – this is a reappraisal of our values and the culture of BAFTA. We want long term and sustainable change throughout the industry.”
The new measures are expected to come into effect for the 2021 BAFTA ceremony. This report arrives following similar new diversity guidelines implemented by the Oscars, which were announced in early September, and which are expected to come into effect by 2024. A key difference between the two is that the Oscar diversity standards focus more on the films being considered for major awards and their inclusion of diversity measures, whilst the BAFTA measures focus more on the nominee and voting measures. AMPAS has also announced plans to increase and diversify its voting members, inviting 819 new members, 45% women and 37% people of colour.
Words by Mischa Alexander
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