We can do better…
We have taken some time to consult with our Black team members and industry professionals before releasing this statement. At ICTheatre we believe it is not enough to be a part of the conversation around the Black Lives Matter movement; we need to be a part of the action.
There needs to be change. The training offered by drama schools needs to be examined through a fresh lens. It needs to be shaken up, dismantled and approached from a new perspective. Theatre needs to change; the industry needs to change. We have an opportunity right now to make sure the current Black Lives Matter movement, is the end of systemic racism.
We understand that this is not a quick fix issue. This will take time. As an institute we will approach this in a number of ways. We will make this a permanent part of our future. Here is what we’ve started with:
- Conversation. We will continue to have these vital conversations with our Black Tutors, Students and Patrons. We will listen to them, hear their voices, know where we need to change to support them. We will change the current communications that aren’t working.
- Support. We recognise that our BAME student body is underrepresented and may feel unheard – this will be no more. We will adapt to create equal opportunities for our Black, Ethnic and Minority Ethnic students, tutors and staff members to make sure they feel supported.
- Recruitment. We will actively encourage and recruit staff members and tutors from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Communities. We will actively seek BAME professionals with the necessary experience for job roles who may lack the encouragement to apply.
- Outreach. Through our outreach programmes we will look to encourage student applicants from BAME backgrounds, using our Wider Participation Scheme and Fair Access Fund to make training more accessible. Our outreach teams will actively offer up a real through line for BAME students, from training to career opportunities.
- Education. We will modify our current curriculum. The texts used across all pathways will be looked at with an effort to review, update or remove those with colonial connotations. We will strive to find texts and resources from writers from a diverse heritage and include an educational history from a Black perspective related to the Performing Arts Industry, introducing a narrative that has been badly neglected.
- Performance. We will seek to perform pieces of work that are non-traditional in a drama school setting, as well as re-interpret pieces in a non-traditional context. We will cast our shows in a way that is led by talent rather than race, no matter what character is being played.
We recognise that we can’t do this alone and want to invite others to join us. As an Institute we will listen to and be guided by the voices of experience. We will educate ourselves as a collective and in turn educate those around us with the help of our existing Patrons, Tutors and Students from the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic community who have generously agreed to mentor those of who are woefully under-educated.
We leave you with quotes from the conversations that we are beginning to have with our Black team members. Where can we make a change?
“I have been in the industry for 30 years and it’s time for change. My colour did make a difference to the work that I got, and still does to this present day. I am committed to be actively part of this positive change in the delivery of the courses at ICTheatre, so that all students can leave full time training with the knowledge that they will have the same chances at working in the industry as their white counterparts. Let’s get rid of old engrained traditions and rules and create a new pot, one that is overflowing with a new learning journey, combined with the best of the old which will enrich each performer at ICTheatre.”
– Lorraine Davis, Tap and Jazz Tutor at ICTheatre
“We need to put in place a level of sensitivity as to how we communicate with each other. And when I say ‘we,’ I mean myself as a black man, and you as white people. Racism is so ingrained into all of us, whether we contribute to it consciously or subconsciously, whether we witness it. or whether we are on the receiving end, we choose to not say anything due to the fear that we’d be perceived as overreacting or troublemakers, so we adapt to make others feel comfortable. I see what the school is doing and I think that’s fantastic, but if I don’t see that same sensitivity being matched in the way we communicate with each other in house, at home, amongst friends and family, then there’s a real disconnect. A change has to happen. ”
– Michael Walters, Ballet and Contemporary Dance Tutor at ICTheatre
“We have to deprogram people, the education system is designed to program us into a certain way of thinking, and that way of thinking is often racist, sexist or colonial. We can revolutionise everybody’s minds, we can do this, all we need to do is start with education and have frank, honest conversations, then we can change everything”
– Jonzi D, ICTheatre Patron
“We need to educate to a level where we’re all aware of our history. Why has it taken me 50 years to know this history that I should have known? It’s got to change”
– Ron Elliston, ICTheatre Patron