British Film Group Moves to Boost Diversity in Membership, Awards

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts is relying on a new set of rules to encourage more diversity in its membership and in two of its most prominent award categories.

After a year in which diversity issues were in the spotlight in the film industry, the Academy Awards’ British counterpart is taking action to diversify the makeup of its membership.

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) this week announced that it would ease requirements for new members to be admitted to the academy and would employ new standards for diversity in two of its most important awards—outstanding British film and outstanding debut by a British writer, director, or producer.

Starting in 2019, the awards will require productions to show that BAFTA’s diversity standards have been met, both on the screen and off. The standards are the same as those set by the British Film Institute, which film productions must meet to receive state funding.

“The BAFTA Film Committee has reviewed the standards and believes they are a flexible and achievable model, which the whole industry can adopt as a shared language for understanding diversity,” the group stated on its website.

Meanwhile, an existing requirement that new members be recommended by a current member of BAFTA has been removed.

“This widens the pool of potential members and ensures that it’s only talent, and not also who you know, that enables BAFTA membership,” the academy said in a statement to Deadline.

The group recently introduced 375 new members to the association, with a stronger focus on diversity and youth: 43 percent of new members are women, 18 percent are from minority groups, and the median age of new members is 44. All three metrics are improvements over BAFTA’s prior member makeup, which skewed older and less diverse.

Many in the film industry welcomed the changes, though some critical observers noted that the diversity standards could have made some recent BAFTA best picture winners, like the 2012 James Bond film Skyfall, ineligible for the award.

(Laura Thorne/Flickr)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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