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Access and Diversity at LAMDA
At LAMDA, we believe that the arts, and world-class training, should be accessible to everyone and we work hard to engage the largest number of people from the widest range of backgrounds.
With that in mind, we welcome the findings of the Acting Up inquiry and the report published this week. This is an important piece of work and a vital tool to continue to draw attention and inquiry to the question of access to higher education and drama school training for students from diverse backgrounds, as well as the critical need for access to the arts to be properly resourced in schools and part of the Ebacc.
Increasing diversity in training isn’t just a ‘nice to have’ for LAMDA. We already invest time, money, energy and resources to reaching underrepresented groups and removing barriers to training.
We believe every applicant has the right to show what they can do and so we interview or audition everyone who applies to the Academy. We charge an audition fee to cover the administrative costs of processing the thousands of applications we receive, as well as the logistical costs of running our audition venues. We make no profit through our audition process and do our best to ensure it is accessible and affordable by holding auditions and first recalls in ten different cities across the UK. We also offer means-tested free audition and interview places.
We know that people who think the arts aren’t accessible for them won’t come to us; it’s our responsibility to reach out. With drama in schools experiencing a huge drop-off, as the Acting Up report demonstrates, giving young people access to the arts is so important. To do this we have established Pathways, a programme that enables young people from underrepresented groups to take their next steps into engagement, training or employment in the creative industries. Through Pathways, along with our Shakespeare in Schools programme, we reach hundreds of young people with an interest in the arts.
The cost of living is London is high and financial concerns represent an enormous challenge for many of our students. We currently give over £330,000 in scholarships and bursaries a year and in 2016/17, one in five of the student body on our degree courses received financial support. We are growing this fund so that we can meet the needs of our students and make sure economic circumstances are never a barrier to training. This work is one of the main focuses of our fundraising efforts.
In the 2016-17 academic year, 24% of LAMDA students came from households with an income of under £25,000, 21% of the student body were from a BAME background and 16% declared a disability. Of our BA (Hons) Professional Acting students, 79% attended a state school.
We are acutely aware that the need for diversity doesn’t rest only in our student body. Our faculty and collaborators must reflect a diversity of voices and experience. We know that this produces better art and better artists, and inspires our students to tell their own stories and make their own work when they enter the industry. At present, we know that our teaching body is not fully reflecting the diversity of our student body. The underrepresentation of BAME individuals at this level is a sector-wide issue and that needs to change. We don't just want to increase the numbers of BAME tutors and practitioners at LAMDA; we are working to build an inclusive Academy and an open learning environment that is reflective of the society we live in.
There is always more to do to diversify our student population, to reach underrepresented groups, to challenge perceptions of drama schools as elite institutions, to find funding to scholar more of our students and to increase LAMDA’s accessibility for all applicants. We are passionately committed to this work.
If you’d like to learn more about applying to and training at LAMDA, the funding supports available and the student experience, email our Admissions Team at [email protected]. Read the Acting Up report here.
Published on 11 August 2017. Updated on 14 September 2017.