Our actions to support Black Lives Matter

By Kath Hartley

Posted

Last week Leeds Conservatoire pledged to stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, and to step up and use our platform as educators to be actively anti-racist, to listen and to re-educate ourselves.

This is an update on the actions we are taking, both immediately and longer term, and information about how Leeds Conservatoire staff, students, alumni and the wider community can get involved.

Expanding our Library resources. 

The Library has created a collection of resources about the Black Lives Matter movement (available via SPACE) as a starting point for students and staff to gain a better understanding of the issues, acknowledging that it is a privilege to be able to learn about racism by reading, rather than by experiencing it first-hand.

Compensating those who do liberation work. 

We shared a video produced by the Students’ Union Afro-Caribbean Society, and we know that a lot of the most innovative liberation work at Leeds Conservatoire is done voluntarily by our students. We will pay them for their work by providing additional funding to our SU to invest in anti-racism work across all of their activities. 

Giving up our platform. 

We will open up our social media platforms to more regular takeovers and encourage Black students, staff and alumni, and Black-owned creative businesses to publicise their work. You can get in touch with us via the contact form on our website or email marketing@lcm.ac.uk. 

Providing support where it is needed. 

We will provide further training and development for our Student Services staff to support Black students dealing with the effects of racism, and next year we will expand this training to all staff. 

Using our political influence. 

We will engage directly with those in political power, and call on our local MPs, government ministers and HE sector bodies to join us in making faster progress on race equality. We will also collaborate with and support our partners in the creative arts sector to achieve meaningful and lasting change. 

Listening and involving everyone. 

We will hold a ‘town hall’ meeting for all staff and students to come together to discuss the issues raised by these actions and to invite suggestions for further action. An invitation will follow soon to all Leeds Conservatoire students and staff. 

Investing in Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. 

Our EDI Committee have told us that the single biggest barrier to embedding inclusivity in all of our work is the lack of dedicated staff resource for EDI and our reliance on volunteers. We are considering how we can fund this vital investment. 

Committing for the long term. 

We commit to meaningful, sustained engagement with racial justice and to reviewing all aspects of our operation. Over the next five years we will: 

  • Do a full review of our curriculum, with diversity and inclusion as the main driver.
  • Invest in understanding and removing barriers to access, success and progression in performing arts education.
  • Work collaboratively with organisations whose focus is on supporting under-represented groups to achieve in the performing arts.
  • Provide training for all staff to understand the challenges faced by students from all backgrounds, and to support them.
  • Review all of our staff recruitment and development processes with a focus on removing the barriers to diversity.

For Leeds Conservatoire 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 Leeds 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 Leeds Conservatoire SU Liberation Officers are members of the Committee, and other vacancies are advertised to all staff.  

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 

Leeds Conservatoire Afro-Caribbean Society is publishing information and educational resources on Instagram @lcomacs 

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

By Kath Hartley

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