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Code aims to stamp out harassment and bullying among musicians

Musicians working in orchestras were included in the study The code is a joint initiative between the Musicians’ Union and the Incorporated Society of Musicians
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A code aimed at stamping out bullying and harassment among musicians – including those who work in West End pits – has been drafted.

The code, a joint initiative between the Musicians’ Union and the Incorporated Society of Musicians, aims to address “deeply concerning” reports that have been received by the organisations, ranging from sexism to sexual assault.

Both organisations are calling on the sector to adopt the principles outlined in the code, which will help employers meet their legal requirements and encourage “a positive working culture”.

By signing up, participating organisations vow to “encourage appropriate behaviour” and oppose “bullying, harassment and discrimination”.

When allegations are made, the code calls on bodies to “make the process of reporting clear, straightforward and accessible”.

The code urges organisations to provide adequate protection for complainants and take action where bullying or harassment is found to have occurred.

It has been created in response to the ISM’s Dignity at Work report, which found that 86% of respondents wanted a code to address the issue.

The survey revealed that 47% of musicians had experienced discrimination and other inappropriate behaviour.

‘Toxic culture’ of harassment uncovered among professional musicians

“When the #MeToo movement began in late 2017, the MU established a confidential email account for musicians and other individuals working in the music sector to report instances of sexism, sexual harassment and abuse. The many reports we have received have been deeply concerning and range from everyday sexism, which appears rife across the industry, to sexual assault. It is clear to us that the culture of the music and entertainment sectors, as well as drama and music education, need to change radically,” Naomi Pohl, MU assistant general secretary said.

She added: “To put it bluntly, many workplaces simply aren’t safe for female musicians in particular at the present time,”

Pohl said that the new code was unique because it had been “drafted with freelance workers, performers and students in mind”.

“Freelances are particularly vulnerable to abuse as they may feel they have no rights and nowhere to turn for help. We want to ensure they feel supported at work and that we and their engagers have their safety and wellbeing as our top priority,” she said.

ISM chief executive Deborah Annetts called on all organisations – including venues, orchestras, schools and recording studios – to sign up and support the code.

Earlier this week, a set of guidelines were published, aiming to eradicate harassment in university drama departments.

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