RADA has admitted to being “institutionally racist” as it agrees to work with students on a 100-page plan they have submitted to the school, created in response to a “continuous lack of care and concern” for black pupils.
The student body submitted the plan as it calls for “an independent root-and-branch investigation” into every aspect of RADA’s operations and training. They also want to establish an independent committee that will be given power to hold RADA to account on the implementation of the plan.
In the plan, RADA is presented with more than 100 recommendations aimed at stamping out racism in the school, covering every aspect of its operation, ranging from what it teaches - leading to a “decolonised curriculum” – to how its staff handle complaints, and how the school is marketed.
Action points include ensuring the school’s website reflects the current student body while also catering to a more diverse demographic, removing material created by those who “supported racist ideologies” – such as busts, paintings, room names, theatre spaces and seats – and staff making a conscious effort to “diversify their knowledge of successful theatre artists and practitioners”.
It also demands a focus on more new writing, and a “more diverse range of creatives”, as well as unconscious bias training around race, equality and inclusion for all students and staff.
The plan also calls for the current role of the school’s director to be split into two, with these staff members held to account by an external body, rather than by the council.
RADA is called on to take an active role in establishing a student union, which would “supply an infrastructure for raising debate and calls for change with the governing body of the institution”.
RADA said it had been “responsible for maintaining structures that are systemically racist”.
“We are aware that RADA has been and currently is institutionally racist. We are profoundly sorry for the role we have played in the traumatic and oppressive experiences of our current and past black students, graduates and staff,” it added.
Admitting it had not done enough to address curriculum, complaints and structures, it said: “RADA needs radical change and must work together as a community to achieve it. We are committed to working with students, staff, graduates and the industry to create an anti-racist culture and institution.”
The school said it had introduced an independent consultant to manage student complaints and was establishing a process for “historic feedback and reporting and specialist support in managing this process”.
Regarding the students’ plan, it is reviewing all issues and recommendations raised and said that the process to “take it forward will be agreed with students this week”.
It pledged a number of changes, including a “root-and-branch structural reform to end institutional racism” at the school, through specialist consultants, and increasing the numbers of black people and people of colour on council, senior leadership and its teaching faculty, as well as its visiting professionals and professional services staff.
It also said it would explore the history of RADA to acknowledge and understand its “past and reassess it for the future”.
Last month, RADA was criticised as part of a backlash from students across a variety of drama schools who spoke of the racism they had suffered during their studies.