New programme for employees at Old Vic following Spacey allegations
The Guardians programme will offer trained people to listen and give advice.
The Old Vic theatre has created a programme to offer employees a way of sharing concerns about behaviour or workplace culture following an internal investigation into alleged inappropriate activity by its former artistic director Kevin Spacey.
The Guardians programme will offer trained members of staff to act as sounding boards for people who are unsure that the traditional routes of line management or human resources are the best way forward with a concern.
A Guardian will be trained to listen and give neutral support and advice.
The programme comes after an internal investigation commissioned by the theatre led to 20 people making claims against Spacey.
The actor was in the role between 2004 and 2015 and productions under his tenure included Richard III, directed by Sam Mendes, The Philadelphia Story and Inherit The Wind.
Between four and six Guardians will be appointed from current staff before the programme formally begins in March.
They will receive specialist training on facilitation and mediation, safeguarding and listening, the culture and values of The Old Vic, as well as its structure and processes.
They will be available to both permanent and freelance workers and will maintain confidentiality over issues raised with them – except in cases in which the issues might amount to a criminal offence.
Kate Varah, executive director of the theatre, said: “The idea for The Old Vic’s Guardian programme 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.
“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 theatre previously said it will also develop a set of conduct rules and behavioural expectations in the wake of the allegations, dividing categories of behaviour into “OK and Not OK”.
It will include guidance regarding one-on-one meetings in isolated locations, especially outside the Old Vic building, and in particular late at night or involving alcohol.
It further said it will include guidance on what to do in a circumstance that feels uncomfortable or “Not OK”, and establish a zero tolerance policy on inappropriate behaviour in the workplace.