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Parents in Performing Arts (PIPA) launched the PIPA Best Practice Charter today, setting out conditions to help theatre organisations become more carer-friendly for workers.
The move follows a survey which showed 81% of self-employed people and 57% of employed people in the profession say they have turned down work as a result of a caring responsibility – some 966 theatre sector workers responded to the survey.
The Best Practice Charter is the result of a year-long research study in collaboration with The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and 15 leading UK theatre organisations.
As part of the research, theatre organisations trialled a number of ways to improve working practices, including truncated rehearsal schedules, Stage Management job sharing and crèche provision for auditions. The Charter includes commitments to adopt recruitment practices, including casting and programming, to welcome and enable access to job opportunities to carers and parents from the widest possible talent pool, reducing possible exclusions and to proactively consider making roles (including short and long term contracts) open to job share and flexible working, and including this option visibly in recruitment materials.
Kate Varah, Executive Director of The Old Vic, said: “We’ve been incredibly proud to act as lead organisation for PIPA since their inception, and to support them in developing the campaign. Building the visibility of these issues and the credibility of PIPA throughout the industry has been exciting and not before time. We are also pleased to have taken part in their best practice research project and to have undertaken our own practical trials to work in ways that are more supportive of the needs of parents and carers in the workplace. We look forward to continuing our relationship with PIPA in future as a strategic partner and an ambassador of their work.”
Theatre organisations across the UK are being encouraged to sign up to the Charter, which will be trialled and tested by 25 theatres for the first year, to help ensure that places of work – and access to work – become as inclusive and accessible as possible to carers and parents. The guidelines cover casting, staff recruitment, monitoring and changes to working conditions and practices: organisations who meet Best Practice Charter conditions will be awarded a PIPA kite mark.
PIPA Chair Amanda Parker, urged theatre organisations to sign up to the Best Practice Charter trial to demonstrate and commit to improving working conditions and practices for performance arts workers: “PIPA’s research has shown that in many cases, simple changes to theatres’ working practices can make them significantly more inclusive. But it also shows that some forms of exclusion are more complex and can only be addressed by systemic alterations to working cultures. We hope all performance organisations will appreciate the value of ensuring the UK’s cultural offer is accessible to everyone – both audiences and arts makers”.
PIPA is currently exploring working practices in music and dance sectors.
*To sign up and take part in the PIPA Best Practice Charter trial for its inaugural year please email firstname.lastname@example.org.