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Becoming an Anti-Racist Institution

The RCA’s Senior Management Team is today publishing its Draft Action Plan Towards Becoming an Anti-Racist Institution for consultation with the College’s community including our students, staff and unions.

In July 2020, we committed to become an anti-racist institution, building a community which is diverse, multicultural and inclusive for all students and staff and where everyone can teach, learn, work and practise in a shared spirit of cultural exchange.

The publication of the Draft Action Plan, with clear actions and timetable, is the next step of this vital process. It has been informed by recommendations from expert independent consultants Nous Group and follows listening sessions with staff, students and alumni across the RCA. The Draft Action Plan takes on board in full all of Nous’s seven recommendations to:

  • Implement effective governance, accountability and transparency
  • Improve training and support for staff
  • Review complaints policies and procedures
  • Diversify staff through recruitment and progression
  • Widen participation of students
  • Train and support students
  • Decolonise the curriculum

RCA Vice-Chancellor Paul Thompson said:

“I would personally like to thank everyone who participated in the listening sessions. I appreciate it must have been difficult for many. I would like to apologise again to staff and students who have experienced racism while working and studying at the RCA. Racism in all its forms is unacceptable.

The insights given by those with lived experience of racism at the RCA have contributed significantly to the Draft Action Plan and its clear priorities for the College to take forward. Our next step is to work with staff, students, our unions, and other partners to finalise the plan.

We will continue to listen, learn and build on best practice, putting the experiences of people of colour at the heart of all interventions and backing action with resources.”

Last week, the College also undertook interviews for the new role of Head of Equity and Inclusion, with the interview panel including RCA Council member Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE, Abid Qayum, Head of Technical Services, and Alexandria Smith, Head of Programme (MA Painting). This will be followed by a second stage with key College stakeholders including UCU, Unite and the Students’ Union. This new role will coordinate the action plan implementation, reporting to Heather Akif, the Executive Director of Operations, and in close collaboration with HR and key internal stakeholder groups. 

Dr Imafidon, RCA Council Member, said: 

‘For RCA, the journey along the road to becoming an anti-racist institution starts here. The Draft Action Plan has been formed equitably and the necessary work to transform and evolve our culture can now begin. This will not be an easy transition for anyone involved, but it will certainly be worth it - not only for the RCA but all for all in its sphere of influence. Change in behaviours, norms and processes will be needed at all levels, across staff, students and partners. I'm looking forward to the final form of the Draft Action Plan guiding our first steps with the right level of accountability & resource. ‘

The implementation of the Draft Action Plan will only be successful through a whole institution approach, with the commitment and participation of staff and students across the College. Internal consultation will take place with key stakeholder groups, including the trade unions and Student Union. Colleagues and students are invited to give their view by emailing [email protected]. We will also learn from the work done by our colleagues in other universities, Universities UK and the creative industries.

The Draft Action Plan, backed by clear resourcing commitments, will be finalised over the next few months. It forms the anti-racist element of the College’s Diversity Strategy which will be a priority responsibility for the new Head of Equity and Inclusion.

We will give an update in the summer and regularly thereafter.