The Rob Guest Endowment has been slammed for the lack of diversity in this year’s cohort of semi-finalists, with critics pointing out that the 30-strong group is almost entirely white. The biennial Rob Guest Endowment is the largest single Musical Theatre scholarship in Australia, with a $50,000 first prize, a $5,000 second prize and $1,500 each for four runners up. Created following the sudden death of musical theatre performer Rob Guest OBE in 2008, the RGE was established to build and maintain a community for emerging musical theatre artists and to provide them with support.

The announcement quickly met with criticism, including from semi-finalists themselves, for the lack of diversity in the line-up. In an open letter to the selection committee, musical theatre performer Hayden Tee condemned what he described as a “white wash” of the Rob Guest Endowment. “As a proud Maori New Zealander (Rob’s home country) who presents as pakeha (white) and who has benefited from much white privilege in my life due to my (pakeha) appearance I feel it is my duty to stand...