Gavin Henderson must stand down as principal of RCSSD

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Over the past week, it has become clear that Gavin Henderson CBE, the principal of the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, is not fit to lead the institution in a 21st Century manner and in a way that tackles current and future issues that the theatre and arts industry faces. 

When talking about setting targets in relation to encouraging an uptake in Black and Minority Ethnic students, he referred to those from less priveleged and BAME communities who auditioned for the drama school as ‘risks’. Henderson also said he felt that the RCSSD could not lay down specific targets for BAME students as the instituion had a “reputation to maintain”. 

In addition, while discussing the #MeToo movement, and the response from the Royal Court’s Artistic Director Vicky Featherstone in creating a code of practice for stamping out sexual abuse, harrassment, and abuses of power in the theatre industry, Henderson said that he believed Featherstone had “restricted the creative process” by going “too far down that route”. 

His use of language around these issues, and failure to commit to tangible goals in addressing the issues of racial diversity, display a complete lack of empathy with some of the largest challenges and opportunities that the arts industry faces going forward.

For this reason, we believe that Mr Henderson is not the right person to lead an institution that has been named the top UK drama school, and therefore one that should be leading the way forward for the theatre practitioners of the future, rather than dragging its heels under a principal who is unequipped, reluctant, lacking in understanding and empathy, and resistant to the changes RCSSD, its students, and its future candidates so desperately need. 

The institution cannot move forward in a progressive and efficient way with this man at the helm. We therefore call for principal Gavin Henderson’s resignation.

Links for more info and background to Mr Henderson’s comments:

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