Lir Academy’s anti-racism policy can be ‘catalyst for change’ in dramatic arts

New policy ‘anchors’ commitment to becoming ‘anti-racist organisation’

The launch of the Lir Academy’s anti-racism policy in Dublin on Wednesday can be a “catalyst for change” in the dramatic arts industry, actor and graduate of the school Patrick Martins has said.

The Lir is Ireland’s National Academy of Dramatic Art at Trinity College Dublin and offers a range of undergraduate, postgraduate and short courses in theatre-related subjects.

The Lir launched its Anti-Racism Policy 2023–2027, which the group said “anchors” its commitment to becoming an “anti-racist organisation”.

Speaking at the launch, Mr Martins said: “The Lir Academy can become a catalyst for change in this industry. I believe representation is truly important.


“I believe the Lir is doing something extremely important that will hopefully have a ripple effect through our industry that does beyond just the Lir Academy. That is why I am really excited about this.”

The policy includes commitments to promote anti-racism, equity, and diversity across all the academy’s activities.

The Lir will identify and implement initiatives across the entire range of its activities from staff and student recruitment; to reviewing and amending the content of curricula; to production choices, and the composition of creative teams.

It will also put structures in place to respond appropriately to racist incidents as well as new processes to drive “genuine cultural change” across the academy.

Also speaking at the launch was Joy Nesbitt, another graduate of the Lir who previously led on setting up a students-of-colour collective at the organisation.

“I feel the Irish theatrical tradition is at a crossroads in which the community can continue to cling to traditional performances of the Irish imagination or choose to lean in and take responsibility for making the work reflect the immense diversity of Ireland,” she said.

“The Lir’s commitment to teaching anti-racism and acknowledgment of the rich diversity of the country sets an example and is a first step in the right direction.”

Lir director Loughlin Deegan said: “We see that racism is systemic in our society. To play our part in dismantling this, and to be fully responsible to our students and staff, it is essential that the Lir commit to positive action in this regard.

“We believe that, as the National Academy of Dramatic Art, we have a responsibility to reflect the nation back at itself, in all its diversity.”

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson is an Irish Times reporter