National Theatre and RSC sign up to charter to improve conditions for parents in performing arts
Bristol Old Vic, the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre are among 20 leading arts organisations who have signed up to a best-practice charter that aims to improve conditions for working parents in the sector.
The news comes as Hadley Fraser is announced as a patron of campaign group Parents in Performing Arts, which is driving the charter.
Announced last year by PIPA, the charter sets out a range of practical steps that theatres can follow to enable parents and carers to continue working.
Each of the theatres signing up for the inaugural year of PIPA’s charter will choose two points from it, with the aim of achieving change within their organisation.
The charter’s objectives include offering programmes and activities to promote “equal access for parents and carers” and considering making roles open to job-sharing and flexible working.
Other venues that have signed up include Nottingham Playhouse, the Old Vic and Shakespeare’s Globe.
Cassie Raine, co-founder of PIPA, said: “The last two years have been an extraordinary journey for PIPA and the theatre industry. What began as a murmur has become an industry-wide movement and given a voice to many who may not otherwise have spoken up. The need for long-term sustainable change that is appropriate, affordable and effective is greater than ever.”
She said that in the past year PIPA’s partners had implemented “a variety of strategies to ensure carers and parents have equal access and opportunities to work”.
She added that the work would be further developed from February, in collaboration with the 20 theatre organisations signed up so far.
“The charter sets out a range of clear, practical steps to support carers and parents and retain our invaluable workforce,” she said.
Last week, a group of leading West End actors including Gina Beck and Caroline Sheen called on producers to allow performers to share a role, in an effort to make it easier for those with parental or carer responsibilities.
Fraser, PIPA’s new patron, said job shares should be discussed as part of a wider conversation about the options available to parents working in theatre.
“What’s right for one production or a performer is not necessarily right for another. I think if all these things are talked about and on the table, we can only be moving in the right direction,” he told The Stage.
Fraser, currently appearing in Young Frankenstein in London, said he wanted to become a patron of PIPA after he and his wife, actor Rosalie Craig, became parents.
“I felt keenly the change in our circumstances and the change in our lives. We are both keen to engage in the conversation about how our industry might become a little bit more flexible to help people like us, who require that greater flexibility,” he said.
Hadley added that theatres were already making moves in the right direction, claiming the Donmar Warehouse was “forward-thinking”, especially when Craig gave birth to their daughter just as he was about to begin rehearsing Saint Joan at the theatre.