Beyond Brontës: The Mayor's Screen Diversity Programme

Beyond Brontës was launched in 2019 by Screen Yorkshire and Bradford Metropolitan District Council (MDC). The initiative increases diversity in the screen industries by providing TV and film production training and work placements to young people aged 18 to 30.

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This case study is part of a series from the LGA Culture Commission


Beyond Brontës was launched in 2019 by Screen Yorkshire and Bradford MBC. The initiative increases diversity in the screen industries by providing TV and film production training and work placements to young people aged 18 to 30. The West Yorkshire Combined Authority joined as a partner and funder in 2022, with the programme rebranded as ‘The Mayor’s Screen Diversity Programme’, and increasingly ambitious diversity targets, which were surpassed in delivery in 2022.  

The challenge

Three reports from 2019-2022 all evidence a lack of diversity in the screen sector: 

Screen skills Report:

  • ONS statistics indicate that screen industries fall below the national average in the wider UK economy in terms of demographic composition – overall the screen industries workforce is more male, more white, younger and better off, with fewer people with disabilities.’ 

  • ‘Unscripted TV, film and high-end TV are the most optimistic sectors, with around three quarters feeling that their diversity will improve over this period. When split regionally, Yorkshire and Humber employers are most optimistic (perhaps reflecting recent and upcoming investments, such as the Channel 4 relocation). 

Diamond Report:

  • This year, disabled people made just 5.8 per cent of contributions off-screen, which is well below the national workforce estimate (17 per cent); and they made only 8.2 per cent of on-screen contributions, despite comprising 18 per cent of the population.  

  • A lack of representation for many groups is more apparent off-screen than on-screen, especially among people who identify as disabled, over 50, transgender, or part of a Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic group.  

  • Off-screen contributions from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups has fallen from 12.3per cent last year to 11.8 per cent in 2019- 20. 

  • As in 2018-19, women, transgender, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic and disabled people continue to be less well represented in senior roles. In fact there has been a decrease in contributions at senior level made by females (47.1 per cent, down from 50.4 per cent in 2018-19).  

  • We also see very low contributions being made in the roles of Writer and Director by those who are disabled or from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups. 3.5 per cent of Writer contributions and 4.9 per cent of Director of contributions are by those who are disabled; 6.5 per cent of Writer contributions and 8.4% of Director contributions are by those who identify as Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic.  

  • Analysis of the craft and technical groups confirms that many of these roles continue to be highly gendered, with females dominating in roles such as Hair and Make-Up and Costume and Wardrobe, and males dominating others such as Lighting, Camera and Sound. This may impact workers entering the sector now, and shape expectations about opportunities available to them. 

BFI Report:

  • ‘Production spend has increased from £3.4 billion in 2017 to over £5.64 billion in 2021, driven largely by inward investment and the rise of high quality productions made for streaming platforms. More than ever, this content is being made outside the London and the South East, and as new studio space becomes operational, this has significant potential to increase further.’- p2-. This is only in scripted content, and isn’t set to plateau but increase again and this is putting increased pressure on existing crew and resources. 

  • ‘Estimates indicate that an overall training investment of between £95.1 million and £104.3 million a year is needed by 2025 to provide the skilled workforce necessary to match demand. £104.3 million represents around 1.4 per cent of the forecast level of film and HETV production spending in 2025.’- p6 

  • ‘It was estimated in 2017 that 10,000 new entrants to the sector would be required by 2020’ -p21 - BFI Future Film Skills Programme (2017) 

  • ScreenSkills’s 2021 survey of the UK screen industries found that 87 per cent of employers saw recruitment difficulties as a problem. Nearly half of employers (46 per cent) rated recruitment difficulties as a moderate problem that sometimes limits their activities, with an additional third (36 per cent) seeing it as a serious or very serious issue. - p26.

  • ‘Contributors to our review suggest that this may be an underestimate of the proportion of employers facing very serious recruitment difficulties. Skills gaps were noted across the board, however some additional roles and departments that were more readily noted in the interviews we commissioned include props, set decorating, supervising art directors, graphics, sparks, construction, costume supervisors, on-set VFX, grips, and focus pullers. Interviewees told us it is middle management positions that have the largest shortages and are the most challenging for productions to fill.’ – p26 

  • ‘To facilitate the forecast level of production, an estimated increase in employment is forecast from 52,300 full-time equivalents (FTEs) in 2021 to between 65,510 and 70,990 FTEs in 2025. After taking into account workforce outflows, it is estimated that an additional 15,130 to 20,770 FTEs will be needed by 2025.’- p27 

The solution

Beyond Brontës aims to address under-representation within the screen industries by breaking down the perceived and actual barriers that can prevent young people (aged 18-30) from diverse backgrounds starting and establishing careers within the industry. Applicants are offered a bespoke training package to prepare them for a wide range of industry jobs, involving industry masterclasses, CV and interview workshops, mentorships, one-to-one support, and detailed careers information. This also includes internships and work experience placements for a proportion of the trainees. 

To recruit participants, Screen Yorkshire were set targets by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority around equality, diversity and inclusion including targeting of participants from disadvantaged groups. These groups were specifically targeted by actively seeking referrals from Local Authority Employment Hubs, looking for opportunities to align to adult training programmes and aligning to the Kickstart scheme to help to engage harder to reach participants. Strong relationships with local partner district colleges were also crucial in reaching the local communities through targeting with recruitment campaigns. 

Numbers recruited hit above the equality and diversity targets. These were stipulated in the Grant Funding Agreement between the Combined Authority, Bradford Council and Screen Yorkshire. Targets included; Equality, Diversity and Inclusion and recruitment from disadvantaged groups (gender, ethnicity, disability and social class), recruitment of participants across the 5 West Yorkshire districts, retention of participants who complete the programme, progress of participants and conversion onto further training / apprenticeships / work placements / employment, as well as alignment to relevant Employment and Skills and Kickstart programmes. 

Mayor Tracy Brabin poses with a cohort of 15 Beyond Brontës participants. They are standing on a cobbled courtyard and it is a sunny day.

The impact

The first cohort was five times over-subscribed and recruitment specifically targeted disadvantaged groups including gender, ethnicity, disability and social class, as well as district split of participants (In following figures, the first number refers to the actual number of participants with a specific characteristic, and the second number in brackets refers to the target). 

District split

  • Bradford - 9 (7) 

  • Calderdale - 3 (4) 

  • Kirklees- 8 (6) 

  • Leeds - 8 (10) 

  • Wakefield - 6 (5) 

Gender Identity

  • Men - 11 (17) 

  • Women - 20 (15) 

  • Non-Binary - 3 (no target set) 


  • BAME - 18 (13) 


  • Yes - 13 (5) 

Social class/disadvantage

  • Not upper class/don't know/prefer not to say - 28 (21)

Screen Yorkshire surveyed first cohort graduates, with the majority (73 per cent) in work after the Beyond Brontës programme, with 14 per cent having returned to education and 14 per cent not working. And of those working or in education, half are now within the Screen Industries, with a further 22 per cent being in the wider Creative Industries. 

A follow-up survey of the first cohort (Sept 2022) showed that: 

  • 50 per cent of the participants were either working (35 per cent) or in further training (15 per cent) in screen specific jobs or courses. A further 8 per cent were working more generally. The team are currently working on gathering information from the remaining 42 per cent of the cohort, and the above figures are expected to rise accordingly. Of those that have found work and further opportunities, there is a clear link between the work of Beyond Brontës and their successes: 

  • Three participants benefited directly from paid placement opportunities- two had their contracts extended, and another was invited onto another project once the production they were working on was completed. One of the participants has now gone on to working for ITV’s This Morning, while the others continue to work on productions within the region.   

  • A further two have gained opportunities from their mentors, showing the benefit of introducing participants on an individual level to people in the industry 

  • Two participants gained employment from our direct recommendation, as two local independent production companies requested our input for roles they had, demonstrating the prestige of the programme within the industry.  

How is the new approach being sustained?

West Yorkshire Combined Authority will fund the programme for a new cohort in 2022-23, while continuing to evaluate and refine the programme and its targets with our partners. Screen Yorkshire aims to increase the flow of MSDP graduates into the sector, providing a pipeline of talent from under-represented backgrounds, helping to meet the screen skills shortage in West Yorkshire, and creating new opportunities for participants. Based on the success of previous cohorts, they will continue to work to a target of 70% and above for graduates to have secured paid work, started an apprenticeship or related training within the creative industries (with over 50% in the film and TV industries) within six months of graduation. 

Lessons learned

In terms of recruitment, it is worth noting that the total number of applications was 300 per cent over-subscribed for the 72 places available. This suggests recruitment tapped into a strong and consistent appetite to work in the creative industries among diverse and disadvantaged groups in West Yorkshire. Evidence shows that across the two cohorts, the number of selected participants in crucial target districts like Bradford, Kirklees and Leeds exceeded expectations, due to excellent outreach work (the overall target for trainees from Wakefield missed by only a single candidate). The figures for Calderdale reflect a proportionately low number of applications, suggesting that a more specific outreach plan for this district may be needed for future cohorts – ideally linked to a stronger relationship with Further Education institutions. 

The high percentage of individuals going into employment following the scheme demonstrates the value of:

  • well-established relationships with TV and film production companies in the region
  • access to quality, practical and relevant skills/training
  • placing young people directly into industry roles, which enables them to prove their employability.  


Becky Collier, Programme Manager, West Yorkshire Combined Authority & Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) 

Email: [email protected]