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Equity to investigate sexual harassment and ‘culture of fear’ in theatre

Equity president Maureen Beattie. Photo: Marc Marnie Actor and Equity vice president Maureen Beattie believes this is a key moment for the industry to combat harassment
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Equity is launching an official investigation into the “sexual harassment crisis” in the entertainment industry.

Following a meeting of its ruling council on November 7, the union has confirmed that it will take steps such as meeting with employers including the Society of London Theatre, UK Theatre and the Independent Theatre Council, as well as the BBC, ITV and television producers’ association PACT.

It is setting up a working group, as reported by The Stage last week, and will communicate with members to gather suggestions of how to combat harassment and the “culture of fear that often prevents them from reporting incidents”.

The union will publish its conclusions and recommendations early in 2018, in a report that will build on its existing industrial relations and agreements.

Equity has also committed to meeting with drama schools, campaign groups – such as Act for Change and Equal Representation for Actresses – and fellow trade bodies including BECTU, the Stage Management Association and Stage Directors UK.

A full-time member of staff is being appointed to tackle bullying, mental health and sexual harassment, as was agreed at Equity’s annual representative conference earlier this year.

Actor and Equity vice president Maureen Beattie said: “This is a key moment for the industry to harness the energy generated by those courageous enough to speak out about their appalling treatment.

“We will do all that we can to ensure that the supportive statements made by those with power in our industry are followed up with concrete and real action that will bring about the radical change needed to make our industry safer for all creative workers.”

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