On Friday 2 March, ArtsEd became one of the five leading UK drama schools to partner with the Diversity School Initiative, delivering a three year commitment to address under representation and a lack of diversity in performing arts training.
Diversity Schools, born in 2017 and led by co-founder, Steven Kavuma, aims to encourage and support drama schools in the improvement of diversity in every area of their work, including student and staff bodies and works studied.
Yusuf Khamisa, Equality, Inclusivity and Diversity Officer at ArtsEd, attended the Diversity School Initiative launch last Friday, along with current BA students, Georgina Onuorah and Michael Workeye. Here’s what he had to say about the event:
“The Diversity School Initiative represents everything we believe in when it comes to young people – a Grass roots movement that speaks the voice of those who demand change. Diversity is no longer a buzz word, it’s a reality. Real change is on the horizon and we at ArtsEd are proud to stand up with those demanding change!”
ArtsEd is committed to its role as a leading light in this arena. The proportion of ArtsEd students from BAME backgrounds has been steadily increasing over the last five years and currently stands at 23%, significantly higher than most other drama schools. Principal, Chris Hocking supports the initiative whole-heartedly:
“Equality and diversity is the very essence of ArtsEd, and joining the Diversity School Initiative underpins our commitment to inclusiveness and to welcoming talented young people from all walks of life.”
Alumni and current students are equally supportive of the commitment:
But ArtsEd’s mission does not stop there. Another major barrier for young people who wish to pursue a career in the arts is the cost of training. We strive to recruit young people on the basis of talent and not ability to pay and nearly 50% of our student body require significant financial support, through means-tested government grants or our own scholarships and bursaries, in order to take up their places or complete their studies.
“I have two friends from back home that I still see. One of them got an apprenticeship and the other one sells windows. I’m not knocking what they do, but I know I’d be doing the same if I hadn’t got the scholarship to ArtsEd. I just feel so lucky.” – Kristian Wall, BA Acting Alumnus
ArtsEd has been passionate about driving this change in the performing arts for a long time, and we are delighted that our partnership with the Diversity School Initiative will help to accelerate the process. Changes needs to start at the base of the pyramid and we are proud to be at the forefront of this very necessary transformation.
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