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Minister Martin announces suite of actions in response to pivotal arts sector report
22 Oct 2021 : Nathan Griffin
Minister Catherine Martin
Minister Catherine Martin has announced a robust suite of actions and additional funding in response to the recommendations of a pivotal report, Speak Up: A Call for Change. Commissioned by Irish Theatre Institute (ITI) on behalf of the Department, the new measures aim to address culture of harmful workplace behaviours uncovered by survey of over 1,300 workers.

Among the actions cited is collaboration between the Department, the Arts Council and Screen Ireland on allocating public funding in line with the requirement to adhere to national guidelines and workplace safety (and reporting) processes.  Also included in the measures announced is the expansion of existing resources and services that are provided free of charge to artists and arts workers. These include guidance on human resources, counselling, mediation and legal issues, where required.

Minister Martin made the announcement as she launched the ITI report Speak Up: A Call for Change.  The report outlines the results of a comprehensive survey conducted on workers throughout the arts sector in Ireland.  It found that the majority of the 1,300 respondents had experienced (70%) and/or witnessed (53%) some form of harmful behaviours (bullying, harassment, sexual harassment, humiliation, victimisation, assault and sexual assault) that undermine people’s right to dignity at work.

The report which forms part of ITI’s arts sector Speak Up Action Dignity in the Workplace project includes a suite of recommendations that aim to bring about cultural and structural change to ensure dignity in the workplace.

Minister Martin announced the measures and additional funding of €200,000 to support the implementation of the recommendations of the report and the continuation of the work of the ITI’s Speak Up Action

The scope of this work has been extended beyond theatre and into all arts sectors with a focus on:

  • The allocation of public funding in line with the requirement to adhere to national guidelines and workplace safety (and reporting) processes.
  • Building partnerships and collaborations across art forms to embed a commitment to Dignity at Work for all artists and arts workers in Ireland;
  • Introducing structural supports and resources that can be accessed by those working in the sector, particularly independent artists and small companies;
  • Develop a Dignity in the Workplace website, where relevant resources and information would be available including sectoral Codes of Behaviour, policy documents, and other toolkits for artists and arts organisations;
  • Develop training resources including ‘Train the Trainer’ opportunities, particularly in the areas of Intimacy co-ordination and Bystander training in the arts sector to ensure ongoing provision;
  • Changing the behaviour and culture in the arts workplace for everyone by raising awareness of the issues through coordinated and planned campaigns;
  • These actions will be achieved through working with Artform Resource Organisations to give artists access to necessary supports, advice, practical help, mediation, and monitoring to address Dignity at Work issues, in partnership with appropriate agencies including the Arts Council and the Department;
  • The ITI will also mark the fifth anniversary of the Waking the Feminists movement which was a precursor to Speak Up which highlighted gender disparity in the workplace, and
  • Further surveys in coming years will be undertaken to monitor success of measures undertaken.

 “I welcome this report and support the recommendations. There are layers of disturbing elements that emerge from the survey. The majority of the instances reported took place in the workplace, perpetrators are reported to hold positions of authority and often have not faced consequences for their harmful actions,” said Minister Martin.

“The survey makes it clear that the seven damaging behaviours of bullying, humiliation, harassment, sexual harassment, victimisation, sexual assault and assault occur right across the arts sector, including those in receipt of public funding,” Martin continued. “The arrangements I am putting in place in response to Speak Up: A Call for Change, are designed to end this scourge and provide safe working conditions for artists and arts workers.  As Minister, I want to send out a clear message to the sector that this damaging behaviour will not be tolerated.

“I want to thank everyone who shared their lived experiences in response to this survey and to assure them that their voices have been heard.”

Chief Executive of Screen Ireland, Désirée Finnegan, said: “We would like to thank all of the individuals who contributed to this report for their courage in coming forward to share their experiences. Fís Éireann/Screen Ireland unreservedly condemns any behaviour which constitutes an abuse of power and is committed to a work environment free from bullying and harassment of any kind. In our recently published strategy, Screen Ireland has committed to developing effective, robust policies and providing resources to ensure dignity and wellbeing in the workplace across the creative screen industries. We are dedicated to working with industry stakeholders to support the implementation of the recommendations outlined in this report.”

Director of the Arts Council, Maureen Kennelly, added: “The SpeakUp project, and its report today are both hugely valuable and vital initiatives which will promote and safeguard a culture of dignity and respect across the arts.  While the findings are stark, they serve to shine a spotlight on the actions necessary to markedly improve Dignity at Work for all artists and arts workers.  I welcome the recommendations within today’s report and I look forward to supporting their implementation through collaboration with the Irish Theatre Institute, the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media and with colleagues across the arts”.

The report is available at – here.





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