Harassment in drama schools to be investigated in survey

The #metoo campaign has helped bring sexual harassment in the industry into the open. Photo: Shutterstock The survey follows the #metoo campaign, which has has helped bring sexual harassment in the industry into the open. Photo: Shutterstock
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Equity, the Musicians’ Union and the Incorporated Society of Musicians will investigate the culture in specialist performing arts colleges, after concerns were raised by students about harassment and bullying.

The two unions have joined forces with the ISM, a membership organisation for professional musicians, to launch a survey for students over the age of 18 who are currently studying at a higher education institute including drama schools and other specialist music and dance colleges.

The bodies said the survey was prompted by concerns from student members about “issues relating to the culture within higher education institutions and a lack of awareness around the policies and procedures in place”.

It has been suggested that complaints from students have been “ignored and mishandled” by colleges.

The survey, which is anonymous and confidential, follows earlier research carried out by the ISM into the music profession. The body’s chief executive Deborah Annetts said respondents to the first survey requested that it be broadened to include educational establishments.

The survey can be completed here and is open until May 21.

Commenting on the survey launch, Equity general secretary Christine Payne said the three bodies were “committed to empowering our student members – the future workers in our industries – to challenge bullying and harassment”.

She said Equity believed all vocational training providers must have “clear and robust” policies on bullying and harassment, ensure all staff and visiting professionals have been trained in the policies and prepare students for work, including how to deal with harassment.

Horace Trubridge, general secretary of the MU, added: “Our impression is that students are dealing with inappropriate behaviour from fellow students and, on occasion, staff who hold a position of power over them. In some cases we’re told that complaints from students have been ignored and mishandled. This has to stop. This survey will help us to get a sense of the scale of the problem, which we can then discuss with the establishments in question.”