The unveiling of the Diversity Schools Initiative – a new student-led campaign group challenging the lack of diversity in UK drama schools – is both welcome and timely.
Following on the heels of the recent Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation report criticising the UK theatre industry for being “hideously white”, it underlines the importance of challenging a status quo across our creative and cultural sectors that needs radical and urgent change.
The arts are enriched far more when all of our stories and backgrounds are shared. At the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, championing diversity – as well as seeking constantly to broaden and deepen our understanding of it – is at the heart of our values and what we do in practice every day.
As Scotland’s national conservatoire – and as a world-leading and ground-breaking institution – we embrace a commitment to improving diversity that aims to develop greater BAME representation within our staff and student community. We are equally committed to enhancing our socio-economic diversity and have a vibrant widening access programme that spans all ages. Additionally, we are committed here at RCS to those who have been looked after at home, or in residential, foster or kinship care, as well as those with different physical abilities.
It is our belief that by nurturing the talent of a greater diversity of Scotland’s young people – as well as young people of great potential from other parts of the UK, Europe and across the world – their choices and life opportunities will increase, and they in turn will enrich and broaden their art and enhance all communities.
We strive to deliver on this commitment in a wide and innovative range of ways. While we always have more to do, we are delivering successful programmes and seeing positive progress. These programmes include:
- Through our innovative Transitions 20/40 programme we are leading the way in Scotland’s Higher Education sector in increasing diversity and widening participation.
- We are leading the way in the UK through new degree programmes such as our BA Performance in British Sign Language and English
- Our innovative Equality & Diversity Creative Fund engages students and staff in actively promoting inclusivity and diversity within and beyond their own art form through funding new creative work.
- We are one of the first institutions in the country to establish a Fair Access Committee which reports to our governing board and is tasked with facilitating and progressing the widening access and participation agenda across the institution.
- We have recently appointed a Fair Access Manager who joins an Equality & Diversity Officer, a Counsellor & Disability Adviser and a Student Recruitment Officer dedicated to Pre-HE, Lifelong Learning and Widening Access & Participation.
There is without doubt still a long way to go and still much to challenge and change – and significant resource required to do it. At the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland we remain committed both in heart and deed to the ambition that achieving true diversity means delivering access to arts for all, and enabling people from all walks of life to reach their potential and share their stories.
Through our arts we break down barriers, celebrate our identities, explore our differences, challenge injustice and share what makes us human. This ability for the arts to cross boundaries and draw people together seems ever more relevant and critical to society today. To echo the great Maya Angelou, ‘in diversity there is beauty and there is strength’ and we must not forget it.