INTERNATIONAL STATEMENT FROM A COALITION OF DANCE, PERFORMANCE AND THEATRE ASSOCIATIONS REGARDING THE PLANNED CUTS TO THE PERFORMING ARTS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ROEHAMPTON.
In October 2020, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Roehampton announced plans to cut £3.2m from the budgets of the Schools of Humanities and Arts, which will result in significant and disproportionate redundancies in Drama, Theatre & Performance, and Dance. These are high achieving departments by all measures: 81% of research was recognised as “world-leading” or “internationally significant” in the last REF, and undergraduate courses scored an average of 90% on the 2020 NSS measure of student satisfaction.
We, the undersigned international performance and theatre associations of scholars, educators and practitioners, write in defence of our Roehampton colleagues. We strongly condemn the proposed ‘re-balancing’ exercise which will have a devastating effect on both student experience and the quality of research of those staff who remain. While fully understanding the financial constraints of universities, especially in the time of a global pandemic, Roehampton’s plans strike us as primarily ideological in nature, pandering to the current UK government’s short-sighted bias against the arts and humanities and its instrumentalisation of higher education.
We call on the University of Roehampton to preserve and support these excellent departments, and to sustain their important work in widening participation and access to education. Roehampton has historically attracted students who come from underprivileged backgrounds, many of whom are the first in their family to go to university. 60% of Roehampton’s performing arts students are Black or from other minoritised ethnic backgrounds. We are concerned that the proposed cuts will further exacerbate the exclusion of traditionally under-represented individuals in the arts and creative industries.
There is currently an urgent need to prepare young people to face an uncertain future with creativity and resilience. We urge Roehampton to reconsider these damaging cuts, and to develop a courageous, long term strategy of investment in fields of study that nurture critical thinking, collaboration, innovative problem solving and civil discourse.
African Theatre Association (AfTA), UK
American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR), USA
American Theatre and Drama Society (ATDS), USA
Association for Asian Performance (AAP), USA
Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE)
Association of Nordic Theatre Scholars, Sweden
Canadian Association for Theatre Research (CATR/ACRT), CA
Gesellschaft für Theaterwissenschaft (German Society of Theatre Studies), Germany
International Federation for Theatre Research (IFTR)
Mid-America Theatre Conference (MATC), USA
Performance Studies international (PSi)
Society for Dance Research (SDR), UK
Standing Conference of University Drama Departments (SCUDD), UK
Theatre Library Association (TLA), USA
Theatre & Performance Research Association (TaPRA), UK