Theatre groups support new authority to tackle bullying within creative industry

The Society of London Theatre (Solt) and UK Theatre are the latest to support the formation of a new organisation to prevent and tackle bullying and harassment within the creative industry.

Last year, major broadcasters – ITV, Sky, BBC, Channel 4, and Channel 5 – backed the next stage of development for the Creative Industries Independent Standards Authority (CIISA) in order to help create working environments which focus on “respect and diversity”.

Proposals for the CIISA have been developed by Time’s Up UK in consultation with the creative industries, led by Caroline Norbury, chief executive of Creative UK.

The body aims to uphold and improve standards of behaviour across the creative industries by providing services, insight, research, policy, influence and advocacy.

These services are expected to include mediation, investigation, early dispute resolution and immediate advice for those affected.

It also hopes to use the learning from investigations, trends and data alongside the sector sharing expertise with one another to prevent future issues.

In terms of advocacy, it will likely target lobbying for a legal definition of bullying, preventing misuse of NDAs, advocating for better advice and protections for freelancers.

Promoting inclusivity and tackling inequality are also important aims and so they have said anti-discrimination measures have been added to the authority’s proposed model.

Claire Walker and Hannah Essex, co-chief executives of SOLT and UK Theatre, said: “As proud partners of CIISA, the theatre sector welcomes this opportunity to show its commitment to tackling bullying and harassment once and for all.

“We look forward to working with our members to support the development of this much-needed organisation in the coming months.”

Solt represents about 230 London-based producers, theatre owners and managers, including all the major subsidised theatrical organisations in London.

UK Theatre, meanwhile, represents around 240 theatres, concert halls, dance companies, producers and arts centres across the UK.

It also supports more than 1,400 individuals working professionally in theatre and the performing arts in the UK.

Jennifer Smith, interim chief executive of CIISA, added: “The purpose of CIISA is prevention from harm and to ensure there are consistently safe workplaces for our talented workforce to thrive in.

“We are delighted to be working very closely with the theatre sector’s leading performing arts trade bodies alongside the film and TV industries and thank them for their commitment and support for CIISA as we continue to develop our proposals over the coming months.”

CIISA is in its early stages of development and is planning on consultation with the creative industries in the Spring/Summer 2023, with the aim of going live in early 2024.