Paul Hamlyn Hall, Bow Street Entrance ©2018 ROH. Photograph by Luke Hayes
Paul Hamlyn Hall, Bow Street Entrance ©2018 ROH. Photograph by Luke Hayes

Royal Opera House statement on #BlackLivesMatter

We are deeply troubled by events of the past fortnight and acknowledge that we need to effect and embed change at the Royal Opera House.

ByAlex Beard (Chief Executive)
Monday 29 June 2020, 3pm

I have been deeply troubled by events of the past fortnight following the senseless murder of George Floyd. 

It is essential that we, alongside all our performing arts colleagues, take time to reflect and to renew our commitment to stamping out both conscious and unconscious racism.

This week at the ROH, these matters were raised at the Executive team meeting and there was strong debate at the Staff Diversity and Inclusion Network with representatives from across the organisation exploring what our support for the black community, and our staff in particular, should now be.

As much as I would like to hold the ROH up as shining light of diverse representation, we must address the fact that we are a long way from being truly representative of the wider society in which we live. I firmly believe that greater diversity of outlook and people makes for better, more dynamic artforms that appeal to a wider range of people. We must redouble our efforts, building on current initiatives that are addressing barriers to inclusion and progression within ballet and opera; from supporting talented children from diverse backgrounds through to the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme Links scheme (an additional stepping stone for singers and practitioners from under-represented backgrounds, including those who are black). 

We need a systemic approach, addressing the root causes of under-representation. I encourage everyone to share ideas about how we can most usefully effect impactful change, both in our organisation and within the wider performing arts sector. All voices will be heard to help us further a complex agenda that has affected many in different ways. 

This week, while suspending our usual activity alongside the rest of the theatre community on Tuesday, we shared on our social media channels content created by two of our ballet dancers in response to the murder of George Floyd: the beautiful dance choreographed and performed by Marcelino Sambé and the passionate poetry from Joseph Sissens. These pieces were shared with permission from both Marcelino and Joseph in unity with and in the spirit of the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

By working together to learn from lived and shared experience, we will effect and embed change and I look forward to working with our staff, artists and industry colleagues to do so. 

- Alex Beard, Chief Executive Royal Opera House 

[This post was originally published on 6 June 2020]

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