Guildhall School: It’s our responsibility

Guildhall School: It’s our responsibility


norman lebrecht

June 09, 2020

A letter from the principal:

Dear staff and students, 
Over the last week, we have been holding intensive discussions in response to Black Lives Matter, and we have taken a long hard look at ourselves. There has been welcome progress in some areas of our work, but not in others. We recognise that there is a long way to go, and that we have a responsibility to act now.
In addition, we have heard from Black students and alumni of their traumatic experiences whilst studying at Guildhall. We acknowledge the damage racism continues to cause our Black students, and apologise to Black students and alumni who have suffered during their training. It isn’t good enough, and we have to do better. We take allegations of racism extremely seriously, and are hugely concerned by what we have heard. With this in mind, we would encourage those who feel able to do so to come forward, so we can act on this now. You can directly email me at or contact any other senior member of staff at the School who you feel comfortable speaking to.
We have already begun to take active steps in a number of areas of our training, but we know that has not gone far enough. We will therefore form a working group with representation from across the School – across our three faculties, across students and staff, prioritising representation of Black people and others who have been historically under- represented – to challenge us, and present a specific set of commitments to the Senior Management Team whose responsibility it will be to deliver them. We expect that these commitments will include a range of activity to continue the much-needed increase in representation in our student and staff bodies; a complete review of our faculty curricula and artistic programming; and further training and anti-racism learning resources for all staff and students. Our Board will expect, and request, urgent progress.
We will work closely with the Student Union, and also seek out advice from those outside our organisation, whilst recognising that it is our responsibility to bring about change, and no-one else’s.
As we said last week, Guildhall stands with all Black communities and everyone fighting against racism. Those voices must be heard and acknowledged within our own walls, and we must change and renew as a result. We pledge to take this work forward today.
Lynne Williams



  • Heikki Hämäläinen says:

    Very nice that these institutions take public action to fight racism and discrimination. It’s about time.

  • Jerome Hoberman says:

    Why no “what???” or “shocking” for this item?

    • V.Lind says:

      I was wondering the same. There is more flannel in this statement, sincere though it probably is, than in Minnesota Orchestra’s. But nary a hint of criticism…

  • Sharon says:

    My email over the last 10 days has been innundated with arts organizations making similar comments.

    Although I have no doubt that this is sincere I am uncertain why everyone believes that they have to make a statement. Are they afraid that when things reopen they will lose audience members or grants funding if they don’t make a statement

    • Bruce says:

      It costs nothing, fosters goodwill among patrons/ potential patrons, and lets the public know that they are not completely out of touch with what’s going on in the world.

  • Darrell says:

    Yet another exercise in weakness, cowardice and hypocrisy, the true plague in the West: Criminalize those who develop their full potential so as not to offend the mediocre.

    If she feels so guilty, let her leave office and spend the rest of her life on her knees. Let no one stand in the way of those who, with their effort and dedication, deserve the best.

    She is yet another loser.

  • SamUchida says:

    Where she works, she cannot have failed to notice what evening concert goers see – the army of almost entirely black, night-shift workforce labouring behind those plate glass exteriors of the City institutions, clearing the deposits and motions passed by the almost entirely non-black daytime occupants. At that time the latter most likely will be selflessly engaging in overtime in Mayfair restaurants/pubs/clubs, preparing the following day’s deposits and motions. They are unlikely to be imbibing Sir Simon’s serving of emotional/cerebral delights!

    The problems of race (a special case of the exploitation of the poor class, which seems to include most working musicians judging by this blog, by the exploiting one) and culture are systemic. It is obvious then what has to be changed. No amount of tinkering with the police alone (as the free market liberals seem to hope will suffice) will make the slightest difference to the essence of the problem. The BLM movement has is point completely understood.

  • John Rook says:

    We take allegations of racism extremely seriously

    English translation: We always panic in the face of pathetic wokery.

  • les whittaker says:

    “prioritising representation of Black people and others who have been historically under- represented”

    So that will include white, working class people from northern towns and cities like Rotherham?

    Of course it won’t; they’re invisible.

  • Fall on your sworda says:

    Why doesn’t she resign and make way for a black leader? Just wait until all of these white leaders are finally told it’s time for a diverse administrator. It will be great to see them all fall on their swords for the sake of political correctness.

    • V.Lind says:

      What’s a diverse administrator (or other person)? Someone half black and half white, like a harlequin? Or a person of mixed race? If the latter, there are going to be a lot of empty posts, given the percentage of mixed race people as a population. And they cant ALL be as talented as that actress from Suits.

  • Emil says:
    There you are. The LA Times just announced they will capitalise it as well.