Dear ITC Colleague,
Following the Harvey Weinstein revelations and recent UK theatre industry cases we recognise there is a vital and growing conversation about preventing and exposing sexual harassment and bullying at work. These cases are about abuse of power.
The independent theatre sector has particular unique characteristics to consider in ensuring safety and equality in the workplace:
• It is an industry of high unemployment (80%). Gaining and maintaining employment in the sector puts significant power in the hands of the employment giver.
• It is a very small world where everyone appears to know each other. Fear of never working in the industry again once you challenge a prominent person in it prevents people feeling confident to speak out about misconduct.
• Most organisations within the sector are very small with scant management structure (no HR department).
• The culture of the organisation revolves around the character of the artistic leadership.
It is essential that the industry takes this opportunity to reiterate its commitment to good practice and to join together in ensuring that this is an industry where respect, equality and safety are enshrined in all that we do.
On joining ITC members sign up to a set of values and code of conduct to ensure that ‘good art thrives on good management’. To encourage this we have a range of resources on our website to guide you in these issues including one on bullying and sexual harassment. We suggest that member companies take this opportunity to discuss the issue with staff and board, review and refresh their policies to ensure that they are meaningful, relevant and working in practice. If you want practical assistance with this, we are here to help by telephone, email or face to face advise and support.
Whilst the encouragement to speak out about abuse is important it is equally important to remember that these cases have to be dealt with in a confidential way following correct employment and legal procedures. Failure to follow correct process could lead to contamination of evidence, possible actions for defamation, loss of opportunity to successfully pursue and win a case. Legal advice and support from trade unions and management associations is essential.
ITC is in discussion with partners across the industry including Equity, UK Theatre, ISM (incorporated Society of Musicians) to continue and deepen this conversation, to develop policies, strategies and practice that increase the confidence of the sector in managing these issues and creating positive places to work and thrive.
Many members have contacted us to discuss their commitment to tackling these issues. We are keen to hear your views and will keep you involved in the debate and further action.
With best wishes
Chief Executive Officer
Independent Theatre Council (ITC)
The Albany, Douglas Way, Deptford, London, SE8 4AG
Direct Line: 0207 089 6825 ITC main: 0207 403 1727