We hope that the stories we tell will have something to say to every audience.
We are committed to equity, diversity, justice and inclusion (EDJI) in everything we do, from the life experiences we depict, to how we work together, to who we employ, to the many audiences and communities with which we work.
We are a theatre and learning charity that creates life-affirming theatre, made in Stratford-upon-Avon and shared around the world. We perform a wide range of work from plays by Shakespeare and his contemporaries through to commissioning ambitious original work from contemporary writers. We work in schools and communities across the country.
Our audiences are global, national and local. Some have been visiting our stages all their lives and others are watching Shakespeare or coming to the theatre for the first time. They come to us from the Midlands, regions across the UK and all over the world. But we need to go further to change, challenge and excite those who think Shakespeare and the RSC are not for them.
Our ambition is to:
- Do outstanding creative work, that accurately reflects the UK in all its diversity
- Be an open, accessible, welcoming, respectful and inclusive theatre company where everyone is treated fairly
Everything we do relies on us attracting and retaining the finest talent by creating a fair, diverse, inspiring and trusted environment.
Progress so far
During the last two years, we have invested time and money in becoming more diverse, inclusive and anti-discriminatory, but we know there are people who feel excluded from the RSC. These groups include people that we know have been historically marginalised because of their race, class, sex, gender identity, disability, sexuality, age, religion or belief, carer status or financial hardship – or a combination of these.
We recognise that the scale of our historical commitments to representation and diversity haven't made the RSC the truly inclusive place we want it to be. We acknowledge that we have played our part in reinforcing structural inequalities. We aim to address these issues in our organisation and in our sector. We are determined to examine, combat, and dismantle our own practices, policies and prejudices that all play their part in upholding discrimination, inequalities and systemic barriers to change.
There is always more to do. As our society becomes increasingly diverse, we need to constantly evolve so that we continue to meet the needs of our increasingly diverse society and as wide a range of communities as is possible. We want everyone to commit to building a thriving, future-focussed culture; a place where everyone belongs, a place of fairness, justice and equity on our stages, across our learning and community programmes, in our creative and freelance teams, in our workforce, board and audiences, both in person and digitally.
Our EDJI Programme Strategy will outline the next chapter of our ongoing work to create positive, systemic change within the RSC and beyond. We will publish the strategy alongside our action plan here in the coming months.
Examples of EDJI developments
Action Plan for Inclusive Culture and Wellbeing in the Rehearsal Room
This is based on consultation with a diverse range of artists with lived experiences and with inclusive practices. It will include revised processes for the induction of directors, creative leads and companies; establishing guidelines for an inclusive rehearsal space; and safe reporting practices.
building a permanent workforce, representative of the UK
We have improved our data collection to provide a more accurate picture of diversity for the whole organisation. At April 2023, 8% of our permanent staff identify as deaf or disabled, or have a long-term health condition, and 8% come from ethnically diverse backgrounds.
We have embedded a consistent approach to recruiting diverse artistic talent across all our stages, increasing the number of Deaf and disabled actors working with us.
Seven inclusive principles
We have been working hard to embed the Seven Inclusive Principles as part of our work, however we need to grow and understand the impact of systemic ableism and change our culture and ways of working in order to end ableism in the arts.
Colleague Networks and Freelance consultation
We are developing colleague networks within the RSC in areas which include:
- Race & Ethnicity
For freelancers, we have engaged a Freelance Consultation Group of seven artists from a range of backgrounds, who have outlined priority areas for development, and who are now working with teams across the organisation.
inclusion and anti-discriminatory training
We are changing our approach to inclusion and anti-discriminatory training, acknowledging that everyone has their own unique experiences of discrimination and oppression, and we must consider everything and anything that can marginalise people. In 2022-23, we moved further to embed anti-racism training and we are now building on this work and investing in new training and resources on being an ally - someone who is not a member of a marginalised group but wants to support that group, and challenging discrimination for all newly recruited employees and freelancers.
We are, or will be, working on the following developments into 2024:
- Finalising and will publish the EDJI strategy and action plan.
- Helping to broaden our work, by making sure our Senior Leadership Team includes people with lived experience of discrimination or oppression and ensuring they have an impact on our strategic thinking.
- Developing a refreshed audience plan with bigger targets to increase the groups and numbers of people who have previously been underrepresented and under-served in our audiences.
- Piloting a new safe reporting system for raising issues of respect and discrimination that includes wellbeing support and a feedback and accountability process.
- Implementing inclusive rehearsal room principles that draw on anti-discriminatory and inclusive wellbeing practices and training.
- Publishing and sharing the recommendations from the Freelancers Consultation Group.
- Completing an access review and publish its recommendations here.
- Learning with and from other organisations through industry Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) networks, helping to share ideas and thinking to bring about change.
- Developing a data dashboard to track progress against which we will regularly publish to ensure transparency.
- Undertaking a wide-ranging review of existing policies, for example our Respect policy, which sets out the standards of respectful action and behaviour that all colleagues are required to adhere to.
We will publish another update and progress against our EDJI ambitions in early 2024.