Following criticism for lack of racial diversity, the Rob Guest Endowment have announced the cancellation of their 2020 awards and a postponement of their scholarship grant to 2022.
On 20 August, the Rob Guest Endowment announced their 30 semi-finalists for the 2020 awards. While an array of talented artists were within the lineup, the lack of diversity within performers was quickly highlighted.
In a statement released by The Rob Guest Endowment, the committee pledged to “do better in the future” and accepted that the “leadership committee should have done more to ensure that contestants in the competition were drawn from a much more diverse cross-section of emerging musical theatre performers across Australia”.
Since this announcement, Australian artists and supporters have rallied behind performers with a number of Rob Guest Endowment semi-finalists pledging their support to those within the community who were not represented.
Following significant public comment, the Endowment released a series of structural changes to ensure the representation of Indigenous Australian and BIPOC performers moving into the future.
While these are all positive steps within the Australian theatre community, the unfortunate results of the 2020 awards have soured the intended positivity and encouragement of the scholarship.
In a statement released today, the Rob Guest Endowment announced:
“The endowment team is particularly concerned for the mental health and welfare of the 30 semi-finalists in this year’s competition. They have endured significant challenges which are likely to intensify should the competition enter its second and third rounds…The semi-finalists in the Rob Guest Endowment competition are our first priority, and their wellbeing comes before the scholarship. To protect them, it is with great regret that the 2020 Rob Guest Endowment Competition will now be cancelled and this year’s scholarship grant is suspended until 2022.”
Further information and procedures moving forward will be released on the Rob Endowment Award Website.