First performing arts company to get independent research status

Our new status means we can conduct crucial research, from exploring the role of immersive technologies in performance, to engaging a more diverse talent base in the performing arts.

When the RSC was first founded by Peter Hall, he had a vision that it would become ‘a teaching and research institution’.

From his vision we are committed to being a teaching theatre, and we have now been awarded Independent Research Organisation (IRO) status by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). We are the first performing arts organisation to receive the award.

Our new IRO status will allow us to broaden our research capacity and develop our role as a national centre for Shakespeare and performance, teaching, training, learning and research.

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We can also announce our first Associate Scholars:

  • Professor Ayanna Thompson - Regents Professor of English at Arizona State University, and the Director of the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies and a member of the RSC Board
  • Professor James Shapiro - Larry Miller Professor of English in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, specialising in Shakespeare, medieval and early modern drama, Jewish studies and British poetry
  • Professor Emma Smith - Professor of Shakespeare Studies at Oxford University and a Tutorial Fellow at Hertford College, research combines a range of approaches to Shakespeare and early modern drama

The three scholars will work with us to guide, advise and inform our work in person, online and across all locations.

Expanding our Research

We will expand our research into a range of subjects including immersive technologies in performance, the impact of theatre-led approaches in education, audience engagement, developing a diverse talent base, considering organisational structures for the 21st Century and ensuring fairer access to and representation across the performing arts sector.

Our first research project as an IRO is funded by Paul Hamlyn Foundation and expands on the findings of the 2018 Time to Listen study. This captured the enormous value that young people place on creativity and arts learning in their education.

This next major research project will provide a deeper insight into why this is and what works most effectively, with the findings informing our practice and influencing the work of wider cultural and education sectors and key policy and decision-makers for the benefit of future generations.