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Old Vic expands ‘guardians’ programme nationwide

London's Old Vic is also establishing a network to link all the organisations that have implemented a Guardians programme
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An informal reporting scheme for staff concerned about inappropriate behaviour is being rolled out by London’s Old Vic to theatres around the country.

The Old Vic introduced the Guardians programme after an investigation revealed 20 complaints of alleged inappropriate misconduct against the theatre’s former artistic director Kevin Spacey.

Old Vic launches ‘guardians’ scheme to protect staff in wake of harassment allegations

As part of the scheme, five members of staff have been appointed designated guardians. They act as a “sounding board” for colleagues wishing to share problems and concerns but who are hesitant to follow more traditional reporting lines.

Law firm Lewis Silkin, which carried out the investigation into Spacey, is now offering free training to other theatres that wish to be a part of the Guardians programme.

Three pro bono training sessions are planned every year, with the next one scheduled for September.

The Old Vic is also establishing a network to link all the organisations that have implemented a Guardians programme, which will be officially launched in the autumn.

As the Guardians Network is still in its development stage, the theatre is not yet able to confirm which other organisations are involved.

Old Vic executive director Kate Varah said: “The Guardians programme is a pastoral initiative to support workplace culture, devised in dialogue with our staff. It responds to a gap in provision by offering an informal, confidential sounding board for everyone to share their concerns outside the ‘regular’ reporting line or formal escalation processes.”

She added: “We felt this scheme could have wider application, so created free materials and access to training to ensure that it was as simple as possible for other organisations to benefit.”

Richard Miskella, a parter at Lewis Silkin, said: “The Guardians programme is an inspired way of achieving two difficult things: disseminating and maintaining your desired culture across all areas and locations of the business, and empowering staff with concerns to make well-informed and appropriate choices regarding escalation of issues.”

Click here for information on the Guardians programme and how theatres can get involved