Theatre helpline set up to combat toxic working practices

By Laura Harding, Press Association Senior Entertainment Correspondent

A helpline to support theatre professionals with issues affecting their health and wellbeing has been launched.

The confidential resource will offer advice on bullying, physical and mental health, finance and career issues and will be open to anyone working in theatre.

The line was set up by the Society of London Theatre (SOLT) and UK Theatre in a move against toxic working cultures.

It follows an industry code of behaviour launched by the Royal Court Theatre’s artistic director Vicky Featherstone to prevent sexual harassment and abuses of power.

It followed a string of sexual harassment and abuse allegations against senior figures in the entertainment industry, including producer Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey, who was a creative director of the Old Vic.

Kevin Spacey (Matt Crossick/PA)

A downloadable handbook is available on the UK Theatre website, containing 10 principles to encourage safe and supportive working practices in theatre, a legal checklist to help theatres implement or modify policies and procedures and a list of organisations equipped to deal with sensitive issues.

Theatre Helpline will initially run as a pilot for one year to provide the industry with insight into what further support might be needed and how it might be funded in the long term.

Cassie Chadderton, head of UK Theatre, said: “UK Theatre and SOLT are committed to bringing the theatre industry together to provide a supportive working environment for everyone.

“People do have challenges that affect their working lives, and inappropriate behaviour can be found in any area of the industry.

“Whether in the rehearsal room, boardroom, front of house or backstage, we hope Theatre Helpline provides a place for theatre professionals to talk through any concerns they have, at any time.”

The helpline is available for free now on 0800 915 4617 and at advice@theatrehelpline.org.