Leading Wigan drama school investigating sexual harassment claims

The Academy of Live and Recorded Arts said accusations had been made against a former teacher.
ALRA Wigan base. (Image: ALRA)ALRA Wigan base. (Image: ALRA)
ALRA Wigan base. (Image: ALRA)

A leading Wigan drama school has opened an internal investigation and issued a public call for information following allegations that a former teacher sexually harassed students.

The Academy of Live and Recorded Arts (ALRA) said it was “heartbroken” after confirming allegations against an ex-member of staff.

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In an investigation into harassment at UK drama schools, the Telegraph reported a former teacher at ALRA had been accused of sexual misconduct.

In a statement the school, who have a base at Wigan Pier and in London, said an internal investigation was under way and called for anyone with information to come forward.

The school said: “The wellbeing of our staff and students is of the upmost importance. We have emailed all staff and students across both campuses to offer support and share our reporting options and policies.

“We have invested money in further support spaces for staff and additional counselling support for students. We ask that anyone affected does not hold back from asking for a space to speak, we will work as quickly as we can to find you support and listen to your concerns.”

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The school, which counts Miranda Hart among its alumni, said it has set up an email address for people to report misconduct, with only senior staff and the ALRA board able to access the messages.

It also said it has an anonymous online portal for complaints.

The school added: “Any information that comes to light within this investigation will be shared with the relevant authorities and we are already working to make contact with the appropriate people.”

It said it has a zero tolerance policy on sexual harassment and bullying and an “equality, inclusion and cohesion lead” will ensure ALRA “takes accountability for any failure”.

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The Graduate Advisory Board, made up of recent graduates and including two female members, is aware of the allegations.

The statement added: “The organisation has undergone radical change over the last few months with a restructure, training, an external investigation into historic complaints (centred on but not exclusively related to racism) and a review of policies.

“Many of these areas are scheduled for regular review so that we can adapt to serve our students to the highest possible standard. We have acknowledged historic failings over racism and we take sexual harassment just as seriously.”

The allegations of misconduct at drama schools come at a time the industry’s approach to the issue is back under the microscope.

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In April a report in the Guardian said leading actor and director Noel Clarke had been accused of behaving inappropriately with 20 women.

Clarke “vehemently” denied sexual misconduct or criminal behaviour, but will be seeking professional help and has apologised “deeply” for his actions.

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