The Lir Academy Launches an Anti-Racism Policy

The Lir National Academy of Dramatic Arts at Trinity College Dublin is among the first higher education and arts organisations in Ireland to launch an Anti-Racism Policy.

On Wednesday 15 February The Lir Academy launches its Anti-Racism Policy 2023–2027.

This policy anchors The Lir National Academy of Dramatic Art’s commitment to becoming an anti-racist organisation. The policy will be launched by Patrick Martins, actor and Lir Acting graduate, and Joy Nesbitt MFA Theatre Directing graduate who previously led on setting up a Students of Colour Collective at The Lir.

In June 2020, The Lir Academy established a Black Lives Matter (BLM) Forum, with representation across The Lir community: including students, graduates, and teaching staff.

The BLM Forum was initiated in response to requests from students and graduates, following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, that The Lir be proactive in becoming a truly anti-racist organisation.

The Lir Academy has made commitments to promote anti-racism, equity, and diversity across all the academy’s activities.

The Lir Academy will identify and implement initiatives across the entire range of the Academy’s activities: from staff and student recruitment, to reviewing and amending the content of curricula; from production choices, and the composition of creative teams, to putting structures in place which will respond appropriately to racist incidents as well as new processes to drive genuine cultural change across the Academy.

The policy was developed by the BLM Forum, with working groups set up to devise actions to achieve the ambitions set out in the policy. Professional input was received from consultant Dr Ebun Joseph from the Institute of Antiracism and Black Studies.

Commenting on her experience as a member of the BLM Forum, Joy Nesbitt, said:

“I feel that the Irish theatrical tradition is at a crossroads in which the community can continue to cling to traditional performances of the Irish imagination or choose to lean in and take responsibility for making the work reflect the immense diversity of Ireland. The Lir's commitment to teaching anti-racism and acknowledgment of the rich diversity of the country sets an example and is a first step in the right direction."

On the advice of the BLM Forum, The Lir Academy has adopted the term Global Majority in all communications. Global Majority is a collective term that speaks to all people who identify as belonging to the global majority. It refers to people who are black; Asian; brown; of mixed-heritage; indigenous to the global south, and/or have been racialised as 'ethnic minorities'. This term includes Irish Travellers, whose ethnic minority status was publicly acknowledged by the Irish Government in 2017.

The Lir's Former Director, Loughlin Deegan, said:

“At The Lir we see that racism is systemic in our society. To play our part in dismantling this, and to be fully responsible to our students and staff, it is essential that The Lir commit to positive action in this regard.” He further adds: “We believe that, as the National Academy of Dramatic Art, we have a responsibility to reflect the nation back at itself, in all its diversity.”

To meet the commitments The Lir Academy has made to black and global majority students, as well as the wider arts, screen and creative industries, Shaz Oye has been appointed as the first Director of Equality and Access at The Lir. Shaz will lead on the implementation of this policy and the delivery of the many initiatives outlined.

The Full Policy can be read HERE