In the wake of numerous allegations against former artistic director Kevin Spacey last fall, the Old Vic has introduced a new Guardians program as part of its “Way Forward” commitment to creating a safer working environment for its staff and artists. After an investigation into the alleged conduct of Spacey, who was its artistic director from 2004 to 2015, the London theatre announced last November that it was actively engaged in a process of healing, prevention, and protection.
The Old Vic’s Guardians will act as confidential sounding boards for concerns about behavior or the culture at work, and will advise as to which actions that can be taken to ameliorate the situation. Four to six guardians will partake in workshops and receive training on facilitation and mediation, and safeguarding and listening. The appointed guardians will continue to receive training and support throughout the year.
The program, which will officially begin in March, aims to offer an additional yet alternative route to the traditional HR or management paths.
“The idea for The Old Vic’s Guardian program grew out of our desire to help reassure people they have a voice. We want everyone to have a way to share their concerns with someone outside of the ‘regular’ reporting line,” explains Kate Varah, the Old Vic’s executive director in an online statement. “Our Guardians will actively listen and support, offering confidential advice on options, with discretion and empathy. A heartening outcome for us would be other theatres, and sectors, taking the concept of Guardians within their business, and making it their own.’”
The Guardians program is similar in nature to Marin Ireland’s newly announced Mediation Pilot Project in the U.S. Ireland’s initiative, developed with civil rights attorney Norman Siegel, aims to resolve grievances regarding non-criminal misconduct in the theatre industry through a process of confidential mediation and continued education. For more information, click here.