An update on our actions to support Black Lives Matter

By Kath Hartley

Posted

Black Lives Matter Logo

Following our commitment to stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, we have been taking action as an organisation to use our platform as educators to become actively anti-racist. Whilst there will be initiatives within the conservatoire community during Black History Month to celebrate and champion black artists, our commitment to change incorporates long-term activity, geared towards real change, across our whole organisation.  Here is an update on what we are doing at Leeds Conservatoire to become more inclusive and representative of our whole community.

Conservatoire-wide initiatives

One major step that we have taken towards implementing change within our organisation is the inception of the EDI Change Project Team, who will review all of the conservatoire’s structures and approaches to equality, diversity, inclusion, access and participation. As an organisation, we recognise that our existing structures and approaches may not be as inclusive as they should be, and we are striving hard to redress this. The EDI Change Project Team will recommend changes to our structures and approaches that will enable us to have inclusivity at the core of everything we do.

We have implemented The Open Channel – a brand new forum where our community can speak openly to address matters of interest to the conservatoire. This is a safe space for staff and students to be able to channel ideas into action – with an aim to address all areas of equality to promote progressions and inclusion at all levels of our institution.

The first Open Channel took place in August and was themed around our commitment to stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement – and allowed us to formulate SMART targets. These included making data more easily available; providing more funding for Junior Leeds Conservatoire to improve access for young people of colour to music and performing arts programmes; reviewing our staff recruitment process; and ensuring that our reporting systems for students allow them to share how they feel safely. These targets will be reviewed throughout the academic year to ensure that we are progressing towards our goals.

We are engaging with the #BAMEOver initiative. Our EDI Change Project Team will conduct research and make recommendations in terms of the terminology that we use across the organisation. We are also changing our statistical analyses so that we can report on detailed ethnicity categories where we are able. Our SU have recently renamed the role of BAME Officer to become the Global Communities Officer.

Curriculum changes

We are undertaking a full review of our curriculum, with diversity and inclusion as the main driver for change, which will take place over the next five years. We have also reviewed our library collection, and acquired new resources for students and staff to gain a better understanding of issues around race. Current students and staff can review the collection in our library catalogue.

We have also implemented two new series of masterclasses within the conservatoire; Black Music Matters, and our Postgraduate Masterclass series. 

Rickey Pageot

Black Music Matters Masterclasses

Open to all students across the conservatoire, this series of masterclasses is curated by Aaron Casserly Stewart; a member of Leeds Conservatoire's Board of Directors and former member of the award-winning Sounds of Blacknness, along with Foundation Year Curriculum Manager Christopher Quick.  

Every month a world-class industry professional  talks to our students in an intimate interview setting online, giving students the opportunity to ask face-to-face questions of the guests.  

Guests so far this semester have included: Gary Hines, Musical Director from Sounds of Blackness, who delivered a special session on the use of music for creating positive social change; hit songwriter and producer Eric ‘Blu2th’ Griggs;  Ric’key Pageot, Musical Director for Madonna’s Band; and the multi award-winning actor, director writer and producer, Colman Domingo. The series is set to continue with  Joel Cross, who will talk about music and mindfulness and how the two worlds are connected. More guests will join us throughout the course of the academic year.

Postgraduate Masterclasses

Our in-depth Postgraduate masterclass series aims to develop core curriculum themes with respect to race, equipping students with critical awareness. The series will explore themes including race and musical identity; representation in the music industry; and Higher Education and race. The masterclasses will incorporate a number of panellists throughout the series, and confirmed guests include Orphy Robinson MBE, jazz multi-instrumentalist; Cleveland Watkiss MBE – vocalist, actor and composer, MOBO Award nominee; Errollyn Wallen MBE - composer and Ayanna Witter-Johnson - composer, singer, cellist.

In addition to the new masterclass series and wider changes to our curriculum, we have also reviewed our library collection, and acquired new resources for students and staff to gain a better understanding of issues around race. Current students and staff can review the collection in our library catalogue.

Black History Month

This month sees various celebrations and showcases of black artists within the conservatoire. Our Afro Carribean Society, in association with LCSU, are curating a night at Belgrave Music Hall on Tuesday 26th October; a socially distanced night of music showcasing black artists. Keep an eye out for the ACS Instagram takeover that night.

There will be further social media takeovers throughout the month – including the LCSU spotlight on artists of colour, showcasing our current students and graduates.

Find us on social media @leedsmusicdrama @_lcsu_


For staff and students: Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) at Leeds Conservatoire and how you can get involved:

EDI Network

The EDI Network is open to all staff, and works on EDI projects and initiatives. You can join the EDI Network by emailing EDI@lcm.ac.uk. You can also use this email address to raise ideas, issues and challenges that you would like the conservatoire to consider. 

EDI Committee

The EDI Committee oversees our commitment to EDI and produces an annual action plan. You can read more about our commitments and actions here, and see what the Committee does here. All of the LCoMSU Liberation Officers are members of the Committee, and other vacancies are advertised to all staff.  

EDI Change Team

The EDI Change Team are reviewing all of the conservatoire's structures and processes currently. You can contact them via Change.EDI@lcm.ac.uk.

Working Groups 

The Access & Participation Working Group coordinates the actions we are taking to meet our Access & Participation targets and our Digital Accessibility Working Group is working to improve the accessibility of our digital services. You can see what the working groups do here. 

Students’ Union 

LCSU has elected Liberation Officers for Disabilities, Global Communities, LGBTQ+ and Women. You can contact them via StudentUnion@lcm.ac.uk 

By Kath Hartley

We are live with Dr Alex Timewell to talk Music Business. Watch live or catch-up: https://t.co/haHIBA6ZvV
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