Theatres across the UK bolster childcare support as part of PIPA campaign
Theatres across the UK are boosting the support they provide to employees with children and caring responsibilities following ongoing pressure from campaigners.
Venues including Sheffield Theatres, Theatre Clwyd, Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse and the National Theatre of Scotland are among organisations that are in the process of updating and revising the information they provide to parents working with them, particularly those on short-term contracts, outlining services and accommodation that is on offer to them.
Many are updating their digs lists to include places that are child-friendly, while others are compiling packs to highlight local childcare services that performers and backstage staff can use when working on productions. The information is particularly valuable to those who are employed on a production-by-production basis, and who need to take children with them when working at different venues.
Campaign group Parents in Performing Arts has been at the forefront of the campaign to improve conditions for workers with caring responsibilities. The changes are being carried out by venues working under its Best Practice Charter programme, which sees them agree to make amendments to be more parent and carer-friendly.
PIPA co-founder Cassie Raine said: “We have been overwhelmed by the innovative way organisations participating in the PIPA Best Practice Charter have embraced this work, including revising welcome packs, policies and digs lists. These are some of the fantastic examples of how the sector is embracing positive change.”
She added: “When our pilot studies become routine practice and best practice is shared across organisations, everyone benefits: businesses become more resilient, increasing diversity and creativity and individuals have equal access to work.”
As part of the changes, Birmingham Repertory Theatre is developing and improving its digs list to include both family-friendly and accessible accommodation, while the Mercury Theatre in Colchester said it was overhauling its information for performers and creatives.
Mercury artistic director Daniel Buckroyd said: “I’m delighted to say quite a number of parents will be be part of Mercury’s creative teams over the coming year and we have offered bespoke help around scheduling, digs and childcare for many of those. Some of our digs offer family rates. It feels like real progress.”
Theatre Clwyd is also revising its digs list and formalising an informal local childcare arrangement.
Earlier this month, movement director Lucy Hind emphasised the importance of nanny lists being made available to parents working at venues away from home.
She said that, while working on The Last Ship in Newcastle, she had found herself “frantically” searching for reputable childcare that could be accessed at short notice. Having found some, she will make the information available to other parents.
“Theatres can’t just manufacture a list like they can a digs list it requires us a theatre/parent community to pass details on. So I will still leave them a list of the three nannies I’ve used in Newcastle so people can call me and ask me how I found them,” she told The Stage.
PIPA has also announced a raft of new partner organisations, including Sonia Friedman Productions, as well as National Theatre director Rufus Norris as a new patron.