ALRA’s Action Plan Against Racism: Update
ALRA’s Action Plan Against Racism UPDATE – February 2021
We are now in the position where we can update everyone, including our staff, students and external stakeholders about the progress we have made over the last six months and the plans we have for our next steps.
Since the introduction of the Anti-Racism Action Plan in June 2020, ALRA has taken steps towards addressing the legacy of systematic racism and inequitable practice. We are very much at the beginning of what will be a constant, continuing and focussed journey to ensure and illustrate via our organisational culture, teaching and learning practice, that Global Majority students and staff are valued and welcome members of the ALRA community.
ALRA is still committed to consulting with the Global Majority Working Group consisting of students from the Global Majority, who have re-framed their charter of values that Senior Leadership are guided by, notably with the removal of the term BAME:
Global Majority Working Group Charter of Values at ALRA
- Every student has the right to be visible in their culture/class/background.
- All staff and students have regular diversity training.
- All staff and students foster a culture of openness to criticism on issues around race, gender, sexuality, class and other protected characteristics.
- Safe and open spaces are timetabled in the curriculum to expand people’s views.
- Staff have regular conversations with students about race and ethnicity gaslighting.
- Leadership commits to transparency and publish the outcomes of investigations.
Institutional and Individual Training
Staff and Students participated in training on recognising racism and activating anti-racist behaviour. This was led by two experts in small group workshops and rolled out institution wide.
Additional individual ‘one to one’ training was undertaken by staff members with Tanya Loretta Dee; a member of the external Race Equality Audit panel.
Anti-Racism is now part of our induction for all new staff and students forming part of the schedule in both cases.
Term 2 and 3 will see further workshops on the themes of allyship, racism awareness vs actively anti-racist practice and structural racism.
Race Equality Audit
The Race Equality Audit is complete and due for publication at the end of February, the delay is due to personal circumstances affecting the panel. The audit included observation and paper based analysis of all historic complaints involving race.
Two ‘Town Hall’ style events were undertaken with staff and student groups, an institution wide questionnaire was also completed, the findings of these formed the basis of the training that was offered in the school.
Numerous ‘face to face’ visits to both sites took place in weeks 3, 4, 6 and 7 of Term 1. These involved lesson observation, student discussion and staff discussion. There was a sustained dialogue throughout these visits with the Acting Principal to monitor and immediately respond to any initial concerns.
An ongoing discussion between the Acting Principal and the external Race Equality Audit team has highlighted areas of good practice amongst the faculty and the importance of continuing to establish strong training, recruitment and observation policies to support the staff and student body.
We have introduced a Text Selection Meeting to outline triggers, content warnings and any issues around prejudice and racism that may arise. The text selection meeting is attended by chairs of the student Working Groups to feedback on any issues they identify may need further consultation upon. This meeting focuses on the intersectional oppression evident in the authoring, performing and casting of the text, offering opportunity for nuanced discussion and the provision of experts where needed to consider the risk of harm upon our communities.
Policies on casting and trigger warnings have been drafted and widely consulted upon and are now in final stages of approval for the next Academic Board in March 2021.
The Assistant Dean has taken charge of re-imagining every module working with all faculty to consult on how we create an equitable rehearsal room and avoid the pain that has been experienced by past graduates. This is now being reviewed by senior faculty before beginning student and external stakeholder consultation.
A new strand of work was implemented in the autumn term exploring Identity and Intersectional Practice. Whilst the intention of this strand was well received by students, the overall shape of the delivery was not and has moved toward the creation of new work. Consultation with external artists, including those from the Global Majority is essential to the manifestation of this important strand of work and will continue.
The nuance of casting experiences will be defined more clearly in our Casting Policy and the importance of giving Global Majority students more opportunities to play characters from their own heritage through the merging of play texts and increased use of devised and commissioned work is, and will increasingly be, a feature of ALRA’s rehearsal and performance modules.
Staff and Student Recruitment
We are committed to including one staff member from the Global Majority on all ALRA audition panels.
The Acting Principal met with many organisations between September and December to set up conversations about long term recruitment strategies with local, national and international organisations working with young people and artists predominantly from the Global Majority and specifically those from low-income backgrounds facing barriers to accessing drama school training. This will re-focus our 21/22 outreach and aim to bring an increased diversity of student membership. A key feature of at least two of these partnerships will be long term work that includes engagement with ALRA faculty to improve confidence and understanding of pathways into drama schools for potential students.
We have consulted with external stakeholders on the language being used in Job Descriptions and Information Packs, as well as clearly outlining that we are seeking to recruit staff members from the Global Majority.
September 2020 saw five new appointments from the Global Majority, three of which were at course leader level.
The Acting Principal, Dean and Assistant Dean are applying for considerable funding to offer scholarships to Global Majority students from low income backgrounds to attend ALRA. This is ongoing and will be built into the roles and responsibilities of the new Principal.
The Global Majority Working Group will be closely involved in recruiting ALRA’s new Principal.
We have been unsuccessful in recruiting a chair for the Global Majority Working Group in the North Campus, but this may be due to issues around the pandemic and we will continue to push forward with this work.
Over the summer of 2020, individual complaints were investigated by panels formed of Board members and observed by the External Race Equality Audit Panel. By September 2020, all signatories from the group complaint letter had been contacted and invited to be involved in an investigation led by a member of the Board of Trustees who were mentored by a specialist external investigation company to assure process was followed.
The board will discuss completed reports in February 2021, and are planning to discuss other reports on completion once the complainants have received a copy of their individual investigation report. The outcomes and any sanctions imposed (or not) on any individual cannot be reported for confidentiality reasons.
An anonymous complaints portal was set up since July 2020. The Graduate Advisory Board were able to assist with one anonymous complaint and give pastoral support as well as add pressure on senior leadership to take action. As above, appropriate action will be taken once the board and the complainant has received the investigation report via the Graduate Advisory Board.
An Equality and Diversity subcommittee has been set up by Global Majority board members who receive direct reports on all issues relating to student experience and equity and inclusion.
An Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Cohesion Lead has been hired on a temporary contract to support the school in actioning the concerns of the Working Groups and liaising between staff, student and external stakeholders. They will be tasked to hold the organisation to account and assist in maintaining the highest possible standard of student experience. The intention is that this role will be replaced in due course by a Director of Culture and Creativity who will join the Senior Leadership Committee and work toward assuring that ALRA remains equitable, progressive and actively anti-racist in its curriculum and student experience.