Chichester Festival Theatre, English National Opera, Sheffield Theatres and the Society of London Theatre are among more than 50 organisations that have joined a network aimed at “eliminating abuses of power in the workplace”.
As part of the Guardians Network, an initiative led by the Old Vic in London, the organisations will appoint internal ‘guardians’ who will act as confidential sounding boards for colleagues seeking support relating to behaviour at work.
The Old Vic was the first to implement the scheme, after an investigation revealed 20 complaints of alleged inappropriate misconduct against the theatre’s former artistic director Kevin Spacey.
By joining the network, the organisations will be able to tailor the scheme to their own needs, while also receiving ongoing training from law firm Lewis Silkin and safeguarding consultant Joanna Nicolas. At these sessions, the organisations will share anonymised trends and learnings from their own programmes.
Other organisations joining the network include Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures, Nuffield Southampton Theatres, Playful Productions, the Lyric Hammersmith, the Rose Theatre Kingston, English National Ballet and National Theatre of Scotland.
Old Vic executive director Kate Varah said: “We devised the Guardians programme in dialogue with our staff to enshrine our values and workplace culture. The idea is simple and therefore easy for others to implement and benefit from. It’s heartening that so many have already done just that.”
She added: “It is incredible to see the commitment in both the arts and other sectors in embracing a solution that helps reframe how our workforces share concerns, escalate issues, and enjoy working together respectfully.”
Richard Miskella, partner at Lewis Silkin, said the scheme would empower staff with concerns to make “well-informed and appropriate choices regarding escalation of issues”.