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Theatre consortium to give ‘unprecedented’ support to parents working in performing arts

Parents in Performing Arts wants to improve conditions for parents in the sector Parents in Performing Arts wants to improve conditions for parents in the sector, including making it easier to arrange childcare
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Theatres and industry bodies including London’s Old Vic, the Donmar Warehouse and Equity have joined forces to create a major new consortium aimed at boosting access to work for parents in the performing arts.

The participating venues and organisations will work with campaign group Parents in Performing Arts to “attract, support and retain a more diverse and flexible workforce”.

Described as “unprecedented both in scale and reach”, the consortium will work with PIPA, launched in 2015, to identify barriers to work for those with caring commitments. Together they will develop long-term strategies aimed at increasing access to work.

Cassie Raine, who co-founded PIPA with Anna Ehnold-Danailov, told The Stage the consortium was an “epic” development.

“What is interesting is the different kinds of organisations working together, who perhaps ordinarily wouldn’t sit around the same table. If we are going to make a difference then it has to be from all sides, so the message is strong and clear and has the best chance of being widely implemented,” she said.

Raine said a steering committee would put together a three-year business plan that will be put to the consortium for approval.

“Rather than imposing something on people, it’s important this is industry-led,” she said, adding that the first major initiative would be a project around industry best practice.

“We need to be specific and precise, collect data and gather facts, so we have a very clear picture of the situation, from which we can find solutions all together,” she said.

Raine said the consortium’s main task would be to support PIPA’s aims and objectives to implement change, and that she would like the consortium to lead to a “new way of working”.

“I think it will be one of those things people look back on and say: ‘I can’t believe we didn’t already do this.’ Ideally there will be support and resources for families and an awareness of work/life balance,” she said.

Other organisations involved include Spotlight, the Mercury Theatre in Colchester, the National Theatre of Scotland and English Touring Theatre.

Old Vic executive director Kate Varah said that the “imperative to create an inclusive, accessible industry which promotes the diversity of our workforce feels more essential now than ever”.

She added that the consortium was engaged in “finding a practical and compelling approach to promoting flexible working in the arts”.

Cassie Chadderton, head of UK Theatre, said she hoped the consortium would find strategies that will increase access to work for people with caring commitments.

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