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Royal Central School of Speech and Drama receives £5.6 million from Research England to establish Centre for Performance, Technology and Equity

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CSSD new centre

The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, a federation member of The University of London, has received £5.6 million in investment from Research England’s Expanding Excellence in England Fund (E3) to establish a Centre for Performance, Technology and Equity.  

The investment will support the establishment of a Centre for Performance, Technology and Equity (PTEQ) and expand on the research that is currently conducted by the School’s Performance Lab, where approaches to immersive and digital technologies are innovated from a performance-led perspective while promoting social equity.

PTEQ will work with partners from across a range of industries and the wider community including the arts, theatres, festivals, applied theatre, social and restorative justice, industry bodies, technology, manufacturing and SMEs, to lead research and development at the intersection of performance and technology.

Led by Professors Bryce Lease and Kate Elswit, it will also house a newly designed Media Lab in addition to School’s existing Motion and Sonic Labs. Funding will support research, development, and innovation; facilitate work with partners; establish a range of newly funded PhDs; assist with capital development; and enable the School to create a number of new posts to support the centre.

A major focus of PTEQ will be on championing inclusivity, diversity, and resource equity in order to transform the discipline of theatre and performance, foster cross sector-innovation, and position the UK as a global leader in intertwining social justice with technological innovation through the arts.

Central’s Principal, Josette Bushell-Mingo OBE, said:

“I am delighted that Central’s innovative and interdisciplinary research has been recognised by Research England’s E3 Fund. At Central, the creative industries and the academy come together to maximise the benefits that we can generate for wider society. This blended approach, with the promotion of equity and social justice at its core, ensures the sustainability and outward-facing relevance of our teaching and training provision, our research and scholarship culture, and the vital impact that our work can make - especially through its influence on industry and the wider sector. E3 investment will enable us to expand and deepen this crucial work, together with our partners, in years to come.”  

Dr Steven Hill, Director of Research at Research England, said:  

“We have invested in research units in universities right across England. This will diversify the regional spread of research disciplines to support the sustained enhancement of research capacity across England, and enhance the skills base, build and diversity talent and bring disciplines together to develop new skillsets and ‘future leaders’ in areas of research excellence where there is untapped potential.   

Our investment will also help to reinforce the contribution of Higher Education providers to their region through strategic local partnerships, focusing on sharing resources and infrastructure and generating local impact, backed by robust institutional leadership.   

We’re excited to see how these units develop over the next five years.”   

The funding is part of a £156 million package of investment which Research England has made to support universities in expanding their small, outstanding research units. Central is one of 18 universities to receive the funding and one of only three providers to focus on art-centred projects in which Research England has invested E3 funds.