Equality & Diversity

Anti-Racism Action Plan

Anti-Racism Action Plan

Anti-Racism Action Plan

Released: 25 June 2020


Over the past few weeks, and following the global movement that ensued after the murder of George Floyd and countless Black lives before him, members of our Black student and alumni community have come forward to powerfully express experiences of racism at East 15. 

Racism is unacceptable and must not be tolerated. We are deeply sorry, and as a School we acknowledge that we must tackle racism head on, both at a systemic level and in our everyday lives.
Anti-Racism Action Plan
East 15 should be the identity of the UK. It should be a comfortable place to be.
Response from East 15 Black students and alumni Forum to discuss racism june 2020

What's next? 


We have taken time to consult with members of our Black student and alumni community, and have formed the resulting ‘Anti-Racism Action Plan’ which will be implemented with immediate effect.

This action plan builds on work already in place at the School and supports the University of Essex in its commitment to be an inclusive community. The below action plan will evolve to incorporate outcomes that arise from the University’s current listening phase, and further input from our East 15 student community. Moving forward, it will be reviewed termly in every academic year.

Action Points


“Change has to happen. We need to be focused.”


We want to be held accountable and, to ensure that we are, we have formed a new Anti-Racism Group to oversee the progress of this action plan. The group will provide updates and reactions from our student community and when needed, propose new ideas to help us evolve.  


The Anti-Racism Group will be formed of 2 staff members, including our new Anti-Racism Lead Zois Pigadas (Head of BA Acting (International) and Contextual Studies), Head of BA World Performance, Ramiro Silveira, and 4 students that cover both our Loughton and Southend Campuses. Student members will be appointed when teaching resumes in autumn 2020, with the first meeting set to take place in Term 1.


As Anti-Racism Lead, Zois is now the appointed staff contact for students to approach with any concerns regarding racism across both campuses, effective immediately.  


While some informal Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) groups exist in both Loughton and Southend, we will now be formalising BIPOC societies at each campus to ensure that there is fair representation at the termly ‘Student Voice Group’ (SVG) meetings and to foster an internal peer-support network for our BIPOC students. The societies will be named by their members and have an open membership. Elected Officers will steer the agenda, and staff support will be provided to help facilitate. They will also be asked to send minutes to the Anti-Racism Group so any points can be fed into the School’s action plan.


We will also be introducing clear signage across each campus detailing information about where to report racial abuse. We will also ensure students and staff receive this information via email at the start of the new academic year.


In addition to the above, we are actively reviewing the ‘Professional Code of Conduct’ to ensure that racism is clearly referenced as a breach of School policy.


We will also be creating a committee that will oversee our approach to advertising staff vacancies to ensure we reach a wider network of professionals and thus encourage greater diversity amongst tutors and directors at the School.


In addition to monitoring from our internal Anti-Racism Group, the ‘Anti-Racism Action Plan’ will be included in East 15’s overall ‘Strategic Plan’ which is reviewed externally by the Faculty of Humanities twice a year, every year.


“Change the paradigm of what Drama School training is.”

To ensure our community is aware and able to identify racism and bias of any form, we will be introducing mandatory 
unconscious bias training for students. This will form part of the student induction from autumn 2020 onwards, and we will also provide this for incoming 2nd and 3rd year students currently studying at the School.

We also need to 
redouble our training for staff and will therefore be providing further discipline-specific unconscious bias training to provide a greater awareness of biases experienced through learning, as well as a practical workshop to cover micro-aggression awareness training to ensure our staff are aware of the specific type of daily indignities people face. This will be supplemented with bystander training for staff to enable our team to recognise their responsibility to intervene in a safe and effective way. Further to this, all full-time staff will also be required to complete up to date mandatory training set by the University of Essex before the new academic year commences in autumn 2020.

In addition to the above, we will be holding a 
‘Professional Panel Event’ for staff hosted by members of our BIPOC alumni community to discuss the topic of dismantling prejudice in the industry, starting with a recognition that this begins in the education sector and how best to tackle this from the inside out.

We will also be implementing a 
‘Mentoring Scheme’ which will see members of our BIPOC alumni community form a support network for present BIPOC students. This scheme has been highlighted as something that would have been valuable to our BIPOC alumni during their studies and with their support, we hope to be able to provide students with contacts currently working in the industry who also have lived experiences at East 15. 


“We need skills, but don’t need to be stripped of skills that exist.”


We are currently reviewing and modifying Year 1 Contextual Studies to create a syllabus that reflects diversity and includes more Black theatre practitioners. We will also be altering the approach to studying Shakespeare to include post-colonial productions and theories. This refreshed syllabus will be taught from autumn 2020.  


In addition to this, we will also ensure that across all years and all courses, students are working from plays and texts that have been written by Black artists. Our online reading lists will be updated and a running catalogue of texts and plays used will be consistently monitored, reviewed and developed. We are currently planning these changes and look forward to implementing this in the upcoming academic year.


The School’s ‘Living History’ project has often been lauded as a unique method experience for our students, however we have listened and hear that in accessing characters so intensely, we must provide better mental health support for our students, and in particular our students of colour. From conversations with our Black students and alumni, we acknowledge that there also needs to be more inclusive teaching and more sensitivity to race and diversity in the project. As such, the School will be launching a review into the ‘Living History’ project and will present a paper to address how issues will be tackled. We will be asking our student and alumni community to feed into this review and will alter the project to accord with agreed principles.


Our Black student and alumni community also spoke about voice training and how this needs to better serve our students of colour. As such, we are reviewing the School’s Voice curriculum, assessing accent training as well as looking to expand our ‘Accent Database’ and use of source material to provide a far wider range of diverse material. These changes will come into effect from autumn 2020.


Furthermore, we will be reviewing the African Dance module in our BA World Performance course to increase the contextualization behind the practice. 

Increased Diversity

“East 15 should be the identity of the UK. It should be a comfortable place to be.”


We recognise that increasing diversity in the industry starts with education, and to that end, we are creating an ‘Outreach Programme’ that will specifically focus on providing workshops for applicants from diverse backgrounds. We also understand that Outreach goes hand-in-hand with support, and we will be working with the University’s Philanthropy Team to work on finding more scholarships and bursaries to ensure East 15 is accessible to those from lower income households and will also support the new Outreach Programme with free auditions. This work will develop our current ‘Audition Fee Waiver Scheme’ which was implemented in 2019. We are proud to share that we will be engaging with an external alumni company to assist the School in this important step. Early discussions are underway and the scheme will start in 2020.  


As a School, we also need to ensure that there are visible role models for our BIPOC students in-house. In addition to the committee that will oversee changes to the advertising of staff vacancies, we will also be launching a free graduate-focused ‘Summer School’ aimed at preparing for teaching at drama school in the hope that we can increase the overall pool of BIPOC facilitators working in the industry by providing training to our graduate community.


We also understand that we will need the support of external organisations to create broader networks for our students and to provide training and education for our staff, and will be taking this time to research and reach out to companies that can assist us with these initiatives. 

Events & Projects

“Make East 15 a place the Black community feels they can promote.”


Prior to the global pandemic, we were in the planning stages for a student-driven showcase to celebrate the artists of colour of East 15, and the cultures that shaped them. We will continue to support this showcase event and look forward to presenting this work in the upcoming academic year.


We will also be working with our students to create in-house training videos that relate to scenarios surrounding racism – not only to create awareness, but unite our students in education. 


The importance of research and learning has been truly highlighted over recent weeks. We will work with our Director of Research to explore language within drama training as it relates to culture and race both in the rehearsal room and across the theatre industry as a whole. We hope that this will help to better educate our community at East 15 and make staff, students and industry professionals more aware. We will also be working with our Research Team to investigate how Black actors engage with current UK voice training practice to ensure the steps we are taking to amend this area of the curriculum are done so with the support and guidance of our Black students.


In addition, we will also be looking to expand the School’s ‘Call to Act’ seminar series which will introduce an event on best practice in the Industry to again ensure our staff and students are aware of equality and inclusion and the School’s no-tolerance policy on racism. 

As a school, we will continue to build a diverse community and proactively support students; we will look for further initiatives that promote inclusion and diversity; we will continue to stand against racism and to show support to our Black students.


If you have suffered racism at East 15, however long ago it may have occurred, we encourage you to report this now so that the school and University are aware of the specifics, can investigate and take appropriate action. You can also email the University directly, or if you feel more comfortable sharing information with the Students’ Union, please contact them via email.


Statements submitted to ‘report and support’ will be seen by the University’s People and Culture Team and a process of investigation will follow.