The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama receives £5.6 million from Research England

17 January 2024

The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama is pleased to announce that it 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 funding forms 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 highly sought after funding and congratulates all those who have received funding to expand and increase their research activity. Central is also one of only three providers to focus on art-centred projects in which Research England has invested E3 funds.

The investment will support Central to establish a Centre for Performance, Technology, and Equity (PTEQ) and to expand on the excellent research that is currently conducted by the School’s Performance Lab, where ground-breaking approaches to immersive and digital technologies are innovated from a performance-led perspective in tandem with promoting social equity.
Working 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, PTEQ will catalyse research and development at the intersection of performance and technology.

This work will be led by Professors Bryce Lease and Kate Elswit and will be facilitated through the creation of a centre which will house a newly designed Media Lab in addition to our 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 Central to create a number of new posts to support PTEQ’s smooth running including postdoctoral researchers, creative technologists and administrators.

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 has a long and rich history of work in the areas of applied theatre, work with communities and social justice, and its award-winning researchers and practitioners in the creative industries have significant experience in conducting intersectoral research in collaboration with a broad range of communities and partners. PTEQ will expand on this work whilst facilitating new, creative technological research in an inclusive way and increasing the diversity of creators.

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.”

Central’s Vice Principal for Research and Knowledge Exchange, Professor Maria Delgado, said:
“Central’s research involves the fostering of critical dialogues with industry partners about their needs, the problems they identify, and the research questions they articulate as pertinent to the contexts in which they work. This investment from Research England will allow us to undertake even more research and development on site with external partners from the theatre and entertainment industries as well as from wider community bodies in ways that will deliver transformative impact. We would particularly like to thank our partners for their commitment to this research. Additionally, the investment in staff across the career stages and doctoral students, will enhance the skills base, diversify talent, and foster inter disciplinarity where there is untapped potential, thus developing the research leaders of the future at the intersection of technological innovation and the multiple forms of research we undertake at Central.”

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.”

Investment from Research England’s E3 Fund is for a period of 5 years, commencing in August 2024.