Keeping child actors off the stage

The government has launched a welcome reform of the rules governing child actors and actresses. Currently, every organisation working with a child has to gain an individual licence for each child, which makes it very hard for small-scale productions to work with children.

Instead, the government proposes ‘allowing producers to apply for group licences every two years, to cover all under-16s performers’.

Local authorities have also been known to be over-cautious and interfering, insisting on CRB checks for adult actors or venue managers, or separate changing rooms for children – with the result that many grassroots theatre productions have started to delete children from their scripts.

The government is quite right to make it clear that ‘it is the role of local authorities solely to make decisions about safeguarding arrangements – not to interfere in producers’ editorial or artistic decisions or override parents’ or guardians’ judgement about what is right for their child.’

Let’s hope that a dose of common sense will allow child actors to take the stage again…