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Race equality programme now formally part of UAL

Shades of Noir becomes University of the Arts London’s Centre for Race and Practice-Based Social Justice, as the institution looks to develop its anti-racism action plan

In a move being hailed as a “pivotal moment”, the University of the Arts London (UAL) has announced that an independent programme focusing on race equality, Shades of Noir (SoN), is now formally part of the institution.

SoN, created in 2009 by Aisha Richards, becomes UAL’s Centre for Race and Practice-Based Social Justice.

The first phase of embedding its work will see SoN’s anti-racism training programme becoming compulsory for all of UAL’s 5,000-strong staff.


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“I am very proud and excited that we are able to build our work further for a better future with UAL,” said Richards, herself a student and teacher at the institution for 20 years.

“I can assure students, staff, and the wider communities we serve, that we will continue to deliver work with purpose and to be a critical friend.”

Besides training, SoN is concerned with curriculum design, cultural currency, creating safe physical spaces, accessible knowledge, and ‘pedagogies of social justice through representation’.

Glasgow School of Art and Ravensbourne University London are among the other higher education facilities to have utilised its programme.

“The evolving relationship with UAL affirms there will always be a place for the development of social justice as an academic and creative practice, and that our commitment and approaches towards liberation through education will continue,” said Richards.

“This will enable us to demonstrate further how we practice intersectional anti-racism towards social justice within the university and with our many external partners”.

Richards becomes director for the Centre for Race & Practice-Based Social Justice, reporting directly to deputy vice-chancellor (academic), Simon Ofield-Kerr.

“There is nothing quite like Shades of Noir, and its status as our Centre for Race and Practice-Based Social Justice will build on its existing legacy,” said Ofield-Kerr.

“This is a pivotal moment for both Shades of Noir and the university, as the Black Lives Matter and Black Lives Matter UK campaigns continue to call for change globally, and as we develop the UAL anti-racism action plan.”

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