The following article comes from the latest Edition of "The Stage", any additional comment from me would be entirely superfluous.
"A complaint that a drama school set up for ethnic minority performers is racist has been dismissed by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
The Academy of Asian and Ethnic Dramatic Arts, which opened in October last year, was approached by the commission earlier this month and asked to explain if the classes it offers “are exclusively for applicants of Asian and ethnic [minority] background”.
It said it had received a complaint from a member of the public that an advert placed by the school - which offered free acting classes to “British Asian and ethnic backgrounds” - was discriminatory.
In a letter to the school, the commission stated it is “unlawful for a service provider to treat a person less favourably than others because of their race”, unless the school can show it is “taking some form of lawful positive action” or where other statutory exceptions applies. It then asked the school to respond to its queries within two weeks.
However, following a conversation with the academy, the commission has admitted there was a “misunderstanding” and that it will not be investigating it. But Hajaz Akram, the school’s principal, has hit out at the commission’s handling of the situation. Although he welcomed the decision to dismiss the complaint, he said he was “frustrated and annoyed” by the commission’s letter.
“I have never heard of anything more ridiculous. Everyone I have spoken to about it was pretty angry. I am angry too, and will give them a call and ask them why they felt they needed to take such a course of action,” he said. “It’s pretty obvious what we are doing as a school. We are a brand new drama school working incredibly hard with limited resources and all our energies should be focused on one thing - getting Asian and ethnic communities involved in drama. I was pretty shook up by the letter. It’s like having a police car come and park outside your door.”
A spokeswoman for the commission said: “We needed to ask it some questions to inform our response to a member of the public who complained that the school was racist. We do not agree that is the case, and will be writing to the complainant to explain why. We contacted the drama school last week to apologise for any confusion about the purpose of our letter and got the information we needed to dismiss the complaint.”