The College is very proud to announce that Professor Uzo Iwobi OBE has been appointed as a Vice President of the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama.
Uzo is currently a Specialist Policy Adviser on Equalities to Welsh Government. Previous roles include Commissioner to the Commission for Racial Equality UK and Chief Executive Officer of Race Council Cymru.
She joins an impressive list of fellow Vice Presidents including Fellow and graduate Sir Anthony Hopkins, Fellow Michael Sheen and Fellow and President of the David Seligman Opera School, Sir Bryn Terfel.
Uzo’s contribution as Hodge International Chair of Diversity over the last three years has already been instrumental in the College’s work on its Strategic Equality Plan which launched last Autumn.
‘Since Uzo has been a part of the College her work with us has been pivotal,’ said Principal Helena Gaunt. ‘She has been so generous in becoming an active and inspirational member of the RWCMD community, connecting us to diverse communities including the Windrush Cymru Elders. Most recently she has been an expert voice helping us to develop and implement our Strategic Equality Plan and Anti-Racism Plan.
‘This new role celebrates and recognises Uzo’s contribution at the College and across the rest of the Welsh arts sector, and the vital part she will continue to play in some of the most important parts of our ongoing journey.
Uzo is a wonderful catalyst for change and an active ambassador for our institution, and I am so grateful that she will continue to bring her expertise to support us. I’m delighted that Uzo has accepted this honorary role and I look forward to continuing our close relationship.’
Uzo Iwobi said, ‘It is such a great honour to be invited to serve the College as a Vice President. Over the past few years as the International Chair for Diversity for the Royal Welsh College I have developed a great admiration for the valuable work being done here.
‘I was delighted to support the College as it took its vital and challenging steps to develop its own Strategic Equality Plan and its Anti-Racism Plan. The development of the Anti-Racist Plan has been recognised by Black History Wales and Windrush Cymru Elders as best practice in the sector.
In my new role I am fully committed to continuing to work with the College towards the effective implementation of both plans. These are important steps towards embedding an inclusive culture in all facets of the College’s work and it’s such a pleasure to be part of this exciting and transformational journey. I am truly honoured to serve the College in this capacity.’
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) is one of the Strategic Equality Plan’s overarching targets, but it also complements the College’s ambitions around sustainability and governance, people and connections, and students and programmes.
Celebrating the Journey
Since the College launched its Strategic Equality Plan it has:
- Signed up to Race Council Cymru’s Zero Tolerance to racism in Wales policy, with the Senior Management Team signing up as individuals.
- Boosted representation on its EDI committee. Representatives from Stonewall, RCC and UCAN productions now co-chair sub-groups looking specifically at its identified priority areas of gender, race and disability. 100% of these advisory groups also include external and student representation.
- Increased its student bursary support to include an annual bursary for new undergraduate students with household income of less than £30K per annum from the 2021/22 academic year. We anticipate that over 25% of new entrants will be eligible for support.
- Increased its Student Hardship fund by 300% with a fundraising campaign over lockdown, doubling the amount students can apply for each term.
- Introduced a new induction fortnight for students celebrating difference and examining power, respect, and boundaries. By the end of Sept 2021 over 2/3 of students will have been through this new programme.
- Continued to re-evaluate its creative programme: Performances and masterclasses this year have included pianist Zoe Rahman, drummer Sidiki Dembele, Jazz trombonist Dennis Rollins and guitarist Ahmed Dickinson, leading recitals, masterclasses and workshops.
- Set progressive targets for the Richard Burton Company, including at least 50% of writers, producers and casts being female, at least 20% of repertoire written and directed by someone with a protected characteristic, at least one captioned performance per season and at least one new industry relationship to develop its work further.
- 100% of RWCMD salaried* staff will have completed Unconscious Bias training during the last twelve months. All salaried staff will also attend a two-day professional development event in September 2021.
- Re-evaluated its staff recruitment policy as part of its emerging people plan, from focusing on language and placement of adverts to ongoing training and professional development for all staff.
- Offered a raft of staff development opportunities focusing on EDI issues including disability and race awareness training focusing on the theatre industry. Three quarters of salaried staff are now trained in Mental Health Awareness and by the end of this academic year almost half of salaried staff will have trained in Restorative Practice.
- Key staff taking part in the ongoing ambitious all-Wales HEFCW funded project with Advance HE to enhance race equality and diversity across higher education in Wales. Additional recommendations may arise from this project when it concludes in November 2021.
- Worked with partners such as Bad Wolf and the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation to create new scholarships for students with protected characteristics or socio-economic disadvantage.
His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales became the College’s President in 2019, continuing the active support he has offered since he first became Patron in 1999.
RWCMD Vice Presidents
RWCMD’s Vice Presidents are a select group of trusted advisors and ambassadors who bring valuable knowledge and expertise from a range of backgrounds to support the College’s ambitions.
The College’s Vice Presidents are Philip Carne MBE FRWCMD, Rhodri Talfan Davies BA (Hons) Oxon, Sir Anthony Hopkins CBE FRWCMD, Professor Uzo Iwobi OBE, Dame Gwyneth Jones CBE FRWCMD, Captain Sir Norman Lloyd-Edwards KCVO, GCStJ, RD*, JP, RNR, Menna Richards BA FRWCMD, Lady Anya Sainsbury FRWCMD, Michael Sheen FRWCMD, Sir Ian Stoutzker CBE FRWCMD, Sir Bryn Terfel CBE and Edward Thomas FRWCMD.
Professor Uzo Iwobi OBE
Nigerian born Lawyer Uzo Iwobi was awarded an OBE for her contributions to community race relations and South Wales Communities, establishing the very first African Community Centre in the country and founding Race Council Cymru, an umbrella body challenging racial inequalities in Wales. Her many positions of leadership on race, include serving as a Commissioner for Racial Equality UK. She worked as a strategic adviser to Police National Diversity Team, Home Office and the Police Authority (APA) and has been a board member for British Red Cross, United World Atlantic College and other charities such as BAWSO.
In 2018 Uzo was appointed the Hodge International Chair of Diversity at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama and a coordinator for the Royal Commonwealth Society of Wales.
Uzo has received awards from the First Minister including Women’s National Commission, Swansea Bay’s Woman of the Year (2006), Lifetime Achievement Award from The National Association of Nigerian Communities; recognition of outstanding achievement in community work in Wales has recognised as the Swansea Bay Woman of the Year (Community Achievement) Award 2006.
Uzo was named on the 100 list of Black, Brilliant and Welsh Africans by Wales Online and a Commissioner to the Centenary Commission and is currently serving as the first black African woman to be appointed a Specialist Policy Adviser on Equalities to Welsh Government.
Last year her image was beamed on to the legendary Stonehenge as one of only eight ‘Covid Champions’ in appreciation of all her immense and ongoing work for the community.
A Space for Everyone
The College’s A Space for Everyone campaign collaborated with students, staff, graduates and friends to bring together its Strategic Equality Plan, with a vision to make the College a safe and creative space for all.
Setting out the College’s main objectives for the next five years, RWCMD’s Strategic Equality Plan is backed up by an annual action plan, ensuring that progress is monitored.
All protected characteristics are included in the Strategic Equality Plan and annual Equality Action Plan.
*References to staff refer to our salaried staff