A free support line for performing arts workers concerned about workplace harassment or bullying will be set up for a year, funded by UK Theatre, SOLT and the Theatre Development Trust.
A collaboration between arts bodies and representatives of staff in music, theatre and dance has culminated with a new set of policies and initiatives aimed at supporting dignity at work and tackling “systemic issues” of harassment and inappropriate behaviour.
These include a set of principles to promote an inclusive working environment and a support line for raising workplace concerns.
The development of the initiatives follows a series of industry-wide conversations, led by the Society of London Theatre (SOLT) and UK Theatre, that brought together representative bodies including BECTU, Equity, Musicians’ Union, One Dance UK, and the Independent Theatre Council.
SOLT and UK Theatre plan to offer training to organisations to ensure they are kept up to date on policies and procedures for dealing with harassment and bullying.
Julian Bird, Chief Executive of SOLT and UK Theatre, said, “The UK’s theatre scene is one of the most respected and renowned arts industries in the world. We want to ensure that those working within it, receive the same due respect and ensure that all our colleagues are safe and supported in their workplace.”
The ten principles encourage arts organisations to take appropriate action against bullies or harassers, and prompt all staff to both maintain positive and supportive workplaces and be aware of the expectations relating to acceptable behaviour.
The guidelines note that reporting bullying or harassment can be intimidating, and any investigations should be carried out objectively and in good faith with complainants and collaborators. They also stress it is essential to have a commitment from senior leaders and for organisations to make a visible endorsement of the principles.
The support line, managed by Connect Assist, will be available to anyone working in the performing arts and will be financed by UK Theatre, SOLT and the Theatre Development Trust. It will be operated on a trial basis for a year and used as a resource for anyone needing support and advice in relation to workplace issues.
SOLT and UK Theatre also say assessments will take place during the pilot year to gain insight into “how to evolve support for the industry”.
According to Cassandra Chadderton, Head of UK Theatre, the support from within the UK theatre and performing arts industry to address and enable positive change has been overwhelming. She said, “Theatre is collaborative and we believe these plans can help bring about meaningful change together.”
A launch date for the support line will be released in the coming weeks.