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Kevin Spacey allegations: Old Vic confirms senior staff member is involved in ‘confidential’ complaints process

The Old Vic theatre in London
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The Old Vic has responded to concerns about the confidentiality of the complaints process it has set up in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against Kevin Spacey.

Last week, an actor who claims the former Old Vic artistic director sexually assaulted him in 2013 criticised the theatre’s response to a complaint he made to the email address set up for those wishing to report historic incidences.

The man, who wished to remain anonymous, told Buzzfeed News that he felt his trust had been breached when he was contacted by the Old Vic’s executive director Kate Varah after sending an email to the address provided, believing it would be dealt with by independent “external advisers”, as implied by details on the Old Vic’s website.

In the article, published on November 3, a representative for the theatre insisted there had not been a breach of confidentiality and described the man’s claims as “false”.

After The Stage put questions to the Old Vic’s board around the identity of the external investigators and what services were being offered to victims, the theatre confirmed the confidential@oldvictheatre.com email address goes to a “senior point of contact” at the Old Vic, who is supported by external advisers.

“Without a senior executive to give them instructions and to help them investigate matters in strictest confidence (if required), the process would fall down. All information received is being kept strictly private, and is also completely private from the board or any other staff,” a representative said.

The information received from individuals will form the basis of an “internal response to the issue, and also our ability to provide a meaningful support to industry bodies and their work to create an industry-wide, in-depth solution to the problem,” the representative said.

The Old Vic also confirmed to The Stage that it is facilitating independent counselling support for victims, funded by the theatre but ring-fenced from the organisation.

The Old Vic’s response in full:

As we have already stated we aren’t in a position to comment on specific issues until we have concluded our review. We wanted to provide you with an update on the confidential email address.

The purpose of offering the confidential email address is to:

  1. Connect with anyone who might value counselling and support, and offer it to them;
  2. Gather information which we can use to inform both The Old Vic's response to this issue; and The Old Vic's engagement with the wider theatre community, as unfortunately this issue affects everyone in theatre to some degree; and
  3. Investigate (to the extent possible in particular circumstances) any allegations which we think should be investigated, having taken into account the views of the relevant correspondent in each case.

This email address is received into a senior point of contact at the Old Vic, who is supported by external advisers. The process was set up this way in order for the external advisers to work effectively; without a senior executive to give them instructions and to help them investigate matters in strictest confidence (if required) the process would fall down. All information received is being kept strictly private, and is also completely private from the board or any other staff.

As part of our response to any correspondents, The Old Vic has established a completely independent counselling support, which is funded by us but completely ring-fenced from the organisation. The service we have set up is available 24/7, 365 days per year. It offers telephone support and counselling, and face-to-face sessions, provided by qualified and experienced therapists. Those details have been provided to any correspondent for whom they might be useful.

We have had a very positive engagement with our correspondents so far. The submissions we have received so far represent a wide range of stakeholders including concerned individuals, regular theatregoers, as well as others who have raised concerns about matters that are both unconnected to the Old Vic and some that are. As a result we are collating detailed data to help us to understand and examine what has happened in the past, both within The Old Vic and within the wider theatre community.

That information will form the basis of our own internal response to this issue, and also our ability to provide a meaningful support to industry bodies and their work to create an industry-wide, in-depth solution to the problem.

We will keep the email address open indefinitely. We will be reviewing the outcome of the investigation as soon as possible and where we can improve our procedures, and identify practical steps that can be taken, we will do so.

Click for all The Stage’s coverage of harassment in the theatre industry and advice on who to contact if you or someone you know has been a victim.

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