"we must continually evolve to accurately reflect society."
According to a poll by Rifco Theatre Company, screen and stage representation of British South Asians are still lagging behind the times and need a radical shake-up.
The poll was commissioned to coincide with the company’s 21st anniversary.
While there has been an increase in representation, 77% of leading British South Asian actors, writers and producers polled felt that too little had changed over the past 20 years to evolve with the times and accurately reflect modern-day experiences on stage and screen.
Speaking about the results of the survey, Ayub Khan Din, said:
“The biggest hindrance to getting our stories seen on television, film and stage is convincing producers that we are bankable and that white, as well as Asian audiences will watch.”
Only 20% felt there had been real progress in portraying familiar characters they could relate to.
However, recurring plots, tired clichés and stereotypes remained one of the biggest challenges to overcome.
The poll revealed a need for more storylines that accurately reflect modern-day experiences of British South Asians, with dating, mental health and mixed-race families being at the top of the agenda.
In response, Rifco Theatre Company is launching 21 Artists for 21 Years.
It is an initiative that will give voice to a new wave of British South Asian artists across the UK, who are encouraged to boldly tackle these modern themes within their play, spoken word piece, film, photography or textile design.
Pravesh Kumar, Artistic Director of Rifco Theatre Company, who was awarded an MBE for his services to British theatre, said:
“When I founded Rifco Theatre Company 21 years ago, my vision was simple – if no one else is willing to represent the stories and experiences of the British South Asian community, I will.
“21 years later, the way representation looks on our stages has progressed, but there is still work to be done and we must continually evolve to accurately reflect society.
“Rifco has been a major part of this journey, and will continue to provide opportunities to draw underrepresented artists and audiences together to create and enjoy relevant and accessible stories.”
The programme gets underway in March 2022 with New Voices, New Stories.
This will see eight British Asian writers showcase their creative writing, exploring themes of mental health, identity and belonging, at The Bush Theatre.
Another commission is Celebrating Eid, a photography exhibition curated by Hafsah Aneela Bashir on the evolution of Eid celebrations at Oldham Coliseum Theatre in May.
Glitterball by Yasmin Wilde will open at Watford Palace Theatre in September and it will explore mixed heritage identity.
GenerAsians feature nine films to commemorate 50 years since Idi Amin expelled Ugandan Asians in 1972.