Black Lives Matter School statement

The School of Performance and Cultural Industries (PCI) stands in opposition to all forms of racism, prejudice, discrimination and inequality.

In response to the murder of George Floyd and the many acts of racist violence that have been highlighted by the subsequent protests in the US, the UK and globally, we stand in solidarity with all black communities.

Our work at PCI stands for the enrichment of daily life through performance and artistic expression, reflecting the full diversity of our society. We can offer examples of this in our work within and beyond the School but, at this painful moment, it is more important that we recognise both the imperfections of that society and our own limitations in representing it. We understand that what are needed now are not fine words but deeds.

As educators in, and researchers of, culture and performance we have a particular responsibility towards the future of our creative sector. That sector, we know, presents multiple barriers to equality which are unacceptably persistent. Black and brown leaders in our own city have already spoken out eloquently about these issues and their experiences. We welcome the inspiration shown by Amanda Huxtable, Kully Thiarai, Keranjeet Kaur Virdee, Sharon Watson and Kathy Williams in their joint statement of 3rd June. We applaud their resolution and we embrace their open heart.

As a school, we have a duty to the next generation of leaders and creators, and our programmes foster critical, politically aware and inclusive creative work. But we recognise that we must both lead and learn. We have an important role to play regionally in cultural terms, and nationally in educational terms. We know, however, that the opportunities we offer are not taken up equally across all communities and backgrounds. For this we have to take responsibility. We accept the invocation from #TheShowMustBePaused that “the time is now to have difficult conversations with family, friends and colleagues”. We are committed to those conversations and to the forms of action which must follow them. We acknowledge that these issues are of profound importance to our students, staff members and cultural partners.

PCI has already taken steps to review and decolonise its curriculum. Further work will progress in this coming year and we must ensure that the other pressures on our teaching provision, those created by the global pandemic for instance, do not hold back this reform. To do this we will draw on the expertise of the School, its staff and students, but also on our National subject associations, and recent work in the field, such as ‘Anti Racism in Theatre and Performance Studies’ curated by Royona Mitra, Tom Cornford and Roaa Ali and the field leadership offered by Prof Jerri Daboo.

Any questions, suggestions or comments you might have are very welcome. We expect these to come from both students and staff and they will be essential to support this work.