Trinity Laban pledges to work towards ‘tangible culture change’ through Black Lives in Music partnership

Harriet Clifford
Monday, March 22, 2021

The first London conservatoire to do so, Trinity Laban has signed up to Black Lives in Music’s charter to address issues of racism and inclusion in tertiary music education.

Xhosa Cole
Xhosa Cole

Ian Davies

London’s Trinity Laban has announced that the conservatoire has committed to a 10-point charter laid out by Black Lives in Music (BLiM), a taskforce of Black leaders, influencers and musicians based in the UK.

In an ongoing relationship, Trinity Laban will work to actively improve the experience of young people of African and Caribbean heritages within jazz and classical music. 

The conservatoire has already begun this work, including the establishment of a Black Lives Matter Working Group, creating a mechanism for the anonymous reporting of micro-aggressions, and forming partnerships with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra and Tomorrow’s Warriors

Alongside the newly appointed BLiM partnership manager and Trinity Laban trombone professor Richard Henry, an internal team of staff members will work towards ‘tangible’ change within the next two years. 

Those involved in this work include BBC Young Jazz Musician 2018 and Trinity Laban fourth-year students Xhosa Cole (pictured), as well as international jazz musician and Trinity Laban tutor Cleveland Watkiss MBE. 

Trinity Laban principal Anthony Bowne said, 'Trinity Laban believes – unequivocally – that Black lives matter. To uphold our core belief in equality we must examine our structures as an institution and dismantle the inequalities within them. We are dedicated to doing this essential work and are excited and proud to be partnering with BLiM to offer a committed route to real change. Through this partnership we can work to meaningfully celebrate, encourage and ensure diversity in our art forms.'

Roger Wilson, co-founder of BLiM, said: 'Black Lives in Music is proud to partner in this important work with one of Europe’s leading conservatoires. The issue of diversity in tertiary music education in the UK is distressing but it feels very positive to be addressing this issue with Trinity Laban. To take the first steps requires honesty and introspection, I’m pleased we can now continue on that journey together – to achieve real and meaningful change.'

Signing up to the charter includes a commitment from the conservatoire to: 

  • Provide safe spaces for students of African and Caribbean heritages to anonymously discuss their experiences.
  • Establish specific funding for students of African and Caribbean heritages.
  • Diversify and decolonise the curriculum and repertoire programmed for performances.
  • Deliver and monitor the impact of anti-racism training for all Faculty of Music staff members, both on an institutional level via the wider Black Lives Matter Working group, and on a discipline-specific level via departmental delivery.
  • Increase the visibility of Black staff, students, alumni, fellows and partners across Trinity Laban sites.
  • Review staff recruitment and professional development policies within the Faculty of Music.
  • Work in partnership with departments and faculties in the institution to address student experiences of microaggressions and structural racism.
  • Increase engagement with schools in the boroughs of Lewisham and Greenwich with the aim of encouraging students from non-traditional backgrounds to explore the possibility of a career in music.

Trinity Laban will also be supporting the BLiM survey, the results of which are set to be published in an annual BLiM report in May 2021.