Theatre staff more at risk of sexual harassment than other arts workers, claims survey

The Arts Professional survey looked into sexual harassment in the arts. Photo: Shutterstock
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Those working in theatre are more likely to be subjected to sexual harassment than other arts workers, according to a new survey.

The findings come from an Arts Professional survey, which looked into sexual harassment in the arts and how employers have responded.

Eight out of ten respondents were aware of sexual harassment taking place at work, with 473 people placing their personal accounts on record.

Responses listed certain aspects of the industry, such as reliance on personal relationships to progress professionally and the merging of professional and social settings, as reasons why abusive behaviours go unchecked.

The survey also found that 90% of those who claimed they were sexually harassed were female, with freelance workers and theatre staff being the most vulnerable.

More than half of respondents who work in theatre (53%) said they had experienced sexual harassment. Other sectors involved in the survey included music, dance, literature, museums and heritage, and visual arts.

Nearly a quarter (23%) of respondents cited sexual harassment as the reason they left an organisation. Of those that did report the behaviour at the time, 41% said their employers failed to take any action.

Editor of Arts Professional Frances Richens, who commissioned the survey, said: “The responses to this survey make for very distressing reading.

“They reveal a widespread and systemic issue. Everybody deserves to feel safe and respected in their place of work and it is clear this is not the case for many arts workers, particularly those working in freelance, artistic positions.”