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Putting spotlight on diversity in the arts is 'a good thing'


Leona Lewis is expected to perform at the event attended by the Prince of Wales

Leona Lewis is expected to perform at the event attended by the Prince of Wales

Leona Lewis is expected to perform at the event attended by the Prince of Wales

The spotlight being thrown on diversity in the arts is a good thing, according to actor Sanjeev Bhaskar.

He said: "I think there are a lot of changes and the conversation is taking us in the right place."

He was speaking ahead of hosting the annual dinner in support of the British Asian Trust (BAT) attended by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall in central London.

Bhaskar's film and television roles include appearances in Goodness Gracious Me, The Kumars at No.42, Notting Hill and The Guru and Horrible Histories.

Recalling working on the ITV crime drama Unforgotten as Detective Sergeant Sunil Khan, Bhaskar said: "I was really lucky to be in a series Unforgotten which was in itself incredibly diverse in terms of age, gender and in terms of colour. I can not take credit for that but it was an example of something which was incredibly diverse which also did really well - that should be a positive message to anyone elese making stuff. "

At the end of the day we want to reflect the kind of world, country and city that we live in. Television is in everyone's homes so it has a duty to do that."

The lack of diversity at this year's Academy Awards, where all the acting nominations have gone to white nominees for the second year in a row, has raised controversy.

Charles and Camilla joined 450 guests at the Natural History Museum - including stars from the worlds of film, TV, music and sports - to support the work of the charity. Leona Lewis was among the performers while musician Labrinth and model Neelam Gill were among the guests.

Charles, who is president of the trust, founded the organisation in 2007 to take action against the widespread poverty and hardship he saw in south Asia.

Since then it has supported programmes in education, livelihoods, mental health and anti-trafficking, and has made a difference to the lives of more than three million people in the region.

Describing the three million-plus people who have benefitted in the last nine years as "an extraordinary number," Bhaskar said: "It can only be a good thing. It is working and we should continue to spread the message."

BAT ambassador Gurinder Chadha, director of the film Bend It Like Beckham, said: "It brings a lot of us together who have done well in Britain and allows us to give back. A lot of the programmes that the charity runs are amazing across education and health. It is a great for us as British Asians to give our time, energy and finance back to Asia.

Charles told the guests: "The Asian diaspora has excelled in almost every area of life - be it business, journalism or fashion. But, if I may say so, you have also excelled in another vital way - in your generosity and empathy towards your fellow men and women in need in South Asia."

He said the BAT was launching a £3 million fund dedicated to work in Pakistan.

The International Development Department has agreed to match a public appeal pound-for-pound through the UK Aid Match Scheme enabling BAT to unlock up to £2 million and there is a £1 million donation from the Aman Foundation.

Charles said the aim is to focus efforts on livelihoods and mental health "ensuring that we reach even more of Pakistan's most vulnerable people in the years ahead."

This adds on to recently-launched research which is taking a "more in-depth look" at the issues faced by rural farmers in India to help them sustainably increase productivity. It is also hoped that grassroots projects may be set up in Bangladesh and Nepal, Charles said.