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Childcare survey for theatre workers to quiz London parents

Photo: Brian Martin Photo: Brian Martin
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Campaign group Parents in Performing Arts is launching a survey to explore childcare options in central London.

It follows calls from actors including Noma Dumezweni and Romola Garai for better support for parents and carers in the performing arts, and comes after 92% of respondents to a poll by The Stage said they would welcome a creche in the West End.

Last year, PIPA said it was looking into the possibility of flexible childcare for theatre workers, with this survey being the next stage of that process.

It is hoped that more detailed research into the issue will help to accurately address the needs of parents and carers.

The research is aimed at anyone working in the performing arts, including theatre, film, opera, music and television, and is designed to identify the demand and understand what the most desirable structure would be.

The survey looks at what sort of childcare would be most suited to parents working in the arts, with potential options including a babysitting service, a childminder, a fixed central London creche and an informal peer network.

The survey also asks what the main reasons for needing childcare are among parents. It could be for cover during working hours or during rehearsals, care during school holidays, emergency and evening childcare.

Other questions will establish what specific needs parents have and how much people would be willing to pay.

Research by PIPA, published earlier this year, found that eight out of 10 theatre workers have had to turn down work because of childcare responsibilities.

The survey is funded by the Actors’ Children’s Trust, the Donmar Warehouse and Spotlight, and supported by the Westway Trust.

Pippa Harrison, head of client relations at Spotlight, said the idea behind the survey was to undertake an in-depth look at the needs of parents working in the entertainment industry.

“Working in the performing arts can be sporadic, on short contracts, last minute – all the things that make it difficult to go down normal childcare routes. If you don’t have childcare needs that are between 9am and 6pm, nobody does it, unless you have family that helps you,” she said.

“PIPA is researching and finding out what the situation is, so that they can work towards changes. It’s about enabling PIPA to get that information in a concrete way, so that it’s not just anecdotal,” she added.

The survey is open for six weeks.

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