Former Royal Exchange Theatre artistic director Sarah Frankcom has stepped down as director of the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, two and a half years after her appointment and almost two years after taking up the job, in which she promised to increase accessibility and diversity.
Frankcom's move has apparently been mired in a controversial claim from former staff that she oversaw a "toxic" and "overbearing" climate at the prestigious drama school, which led to the resignations of several lecturers during her tenure.
A LAMDA board statement said an investigation had been launched: “The board would like to put on record its appreciation and recognition of Sarah’s hard work during an unprecedented time as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic,” it added. Frankcom herself has not commented.
The formal complaint claimed she should be held accountable for a number of recent staff resignations, and that she had put staff under considerable stress.
Last July Frankcom was accused of an "act of vandalism" after presiding over plans to cut 40 staff during the pandemic. Earlier she had declared a radical attempt to "reconfigure what a drama school and training can be", as students took courses online. She also cut the cost of audition fees – angering those members of staff whose income partly derived from the fees.
She was also held responsible for the school's failure to form a policy about the Black Lives Matter movement, which led to her sending an open email admitting her failure to act.
The complainants have accused Frankcom of "overbearing treatment" and "open disrespect", which lowered morale throughout the school and caused many resignations.
The complaint acknowledges the huge strain of running the institution during the pandemic and that her appointment had brought with it a need to drastically change the way LAMDA operated, but suggests Frankcom made things "immeasurably worse" with her management style.
The Stage newspaper reports that a search for her successor is already underway