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Combatting Abuse

FST continues to work with its members and partners to help address issues of sexual harassment and abuse in our sector.

On this page, you’ll find details of:

  • The Harassment in Performing Arts (HiPA) working group,
  • Stellar Quines’ Sexual Harassment in the Performing Arts campaign
  • A specially commissioned guidance note on Sexual Harassment in the workplace,
  • Advice and Helplines and Information and Resources.

If you have any questions about the HiPA Working Group, please contact FST directly.

Harassment in the Performing Arts (HiPA) Working Group

The impetus behind HiPA can be traced back to 2017 when FST pledged to, “take the lead in supporting the theatre sector in Scotland to take practical steps against the abuse of power, including bullying, harassment and sexual abuse, in the industry.”

In September 2021, Elaine Stirrat (Persistent & Nasty), Lisa Sangster (theatre designer and trained sexual violence support worker) and the Chief Executive of FST met to agree a way forward, including the establishment of a short-term working group: Harassment in the Performing Arts (HiPA) Working Group.

The HiPA Working Group was tasked with developing and launching an anti-harassment guide and toolkit for the performing arts in Scotland, and the group successfully completed these initial tasks in 2023. The anti-harassment guides and toolkits have now been developed, tested, and launched, and are being promoted and disseminated throughout the performing arts sector in Scotland. There are two variations, one for organisations and one for freelancers, and can be accessed on this page.

The anti-harassment guide and toolkit are valuable resources that can help organisations and individuals to create a safer and more respectful work environment.

The HiPA Working Group has also helped to raise awareness of the issue of harassment in the performing arts and to encourage organisations to take action to address it.

We expect that there will be a legacy of the work of this Group that extends beyond its initial output and that a permanent forum of some kind may need to be established. However, this will be decided in the context of FST’s strategy development work and longer-term planning which will commence from November 2021 and the progress of the Group itself. 

If you have any questions about the HiPA Working Group, please contact FST directly.

Read and download the HiPA Guides and full terms of reference here:

Stellar Quines’ Sexual Harassment in the Performing Arts campaign

We’ve supported Stellar Quines in their latest campaign which aims to help the Scottish theatre community to recognise and speak out against sexual harassment. It highlights the support available for victims of harassment and guidance for those who witness it happening to others.

The campaign materials have been created by former set and costume designer Lisa Sangster in collaboration with Stellar Quines, with input from focus groups of professionals from across the performing arts. A range of information and advice is covered including:

  • What is sexual harassment at work?
  • What to do when sexual harassment happens to you
  • How to help stop sexual harassment in your workplace
  • Where to access further sources of support and advice

Visit Stellar Quines website for more information

Guidance Note on sexual harassment in the workplace 

In 2020, FST commissioned our legal partners Anderson Strathern to provide a general guidance note on the legal and practical issues that arise in defining, recognising, preventing and investigating sexual harassment occurring at work and how to tackle issues should they arise.

If you need immediate advice about reporting abuse contact Police Scotland on 101.

The Theatre Helpline (phone, email)
Open: 24 hours, 7 days a week
0800 915 4617 / advice@theatrehelpline.org
UK Theatre and UK Theatre and Society of London Theatre (SOLT) launched the Theatre Helpline, a free 24-hour phone and email service supporting theatre professionals with any issue affecting their health and wellbeing.

Rape Crisis Scotland (phone)
Open: 7 days a week, 6pm to midnight
0808 801 0302
Rape Crisis Scotland provides a national rape crisis helpline and email support for anyone affected by sexual violence, no matter when or how it happened.

Safeline (phone/online)
Open: Mon 10am – 4pm | Tues 8am – 8pm | Weds 10am – 4pm | Thurs 8am – 8pm | Fri 10am – 4pm | Sat 10am – 12 noon
General Helpline: 0808 800 5008
Male Helpline: 0808 800 5005
Young people’s Helpline: 0808 800 5007
Text Helpline: 07860 027573
Safeline is a specialised charity working to prevent sexual abuse and to support those affected in their recovery.

Samaritans (phone/email/online/phone app/in-person)
Open: 24hrs, 7 days a week
116 123 / jo@samaritans.org / find your local branch
The Samaritans are a charity that supports people who are in distress when they need help, 24hrs a day. People can talk for as long as they like, as many times as they like. No details are shared outwith the call, they don’t pass on what people tell them, not even the name of the caller.

SurvivorsUK (online)
Open: Mon – Fri, 10.30am – 9pm | Sat – Sun 10am – 6pm
SurvivorsUK was established as a service for male survivors, to cater for people not provided for by other services. We are an inclusive service and welcome anyone who identifies as male, trans, non-binary, has identified as male in the past, or anyone who feels that we are the right fit for them

Victim Support Scotland (phone)
Open: Mon – Fri, 8am – 8pm
0345 603 9213
Victim Support provides victims with free and confidential emotional and practical assistance and information about the criminal justice system. The service is free, confidential and is provided by volunteers through a network of community-based victim and youth justice services and court-based witness services. There is a Victim Support office in every local authority area.

Information and resources

  • UK Theatre and SOLT
    Have published a Safe Working Practices Handbook, including 10 Principles to encourage safer and more supportive working practices in theatre. Download the handbook. You can also read about UK Theatre and SOLT’s plans to support Dignity at Work, here
  • The Old Vic
    Has set up the Guardians Network, a scheme to encourage safer and more supportive working practices in theatre – further information on the network and its aims can be found on their site and a Guardians Network Practical Guide can be downloaded here
  • Lewis Silkin (legal firm)
    Has set up #aLastingChange – a resource for ideas, collaboration, information, legal insight and opinions on how we can create a long-lasting improvement in women’s experience of work and overall make the working environment a better place for everyone – further information is available here on their website. The site also offers templates for documents like A Dignity at Work policy or statement
  • Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM Trust)
    Has created a Webinar on Sexual Harassment & Discrimination: know your rights. You can view this session here
  • Equity
    Published their report on sexual harassment in the industry, Agenda for Change, in March 2018. Download here
  • International Federation of Actors (FIA)
    Published their Combatting Sexual Harassment document compiling resources, inspirations, and recommended practices among performer unions in 2020. Download here
  • Carey Dodd Associates
    Have created Sex Scenes on Set, a video about intimacy choreography. You can view this video here
  • The University of Cambridge
    Created and maintain their Breaking the Silence website with links to a useful selection of additional resources
  • From Belgium…
    An article about combatting sexual harassment in dance, read more
    A statement and toolkit for engagement with and commitment to, ending sexism in the arts, read more
  • From Australia…
    Why are you winking at me, strategies for disarming sexism for people in the arts & cultural sector, read more

Read and download the FST-commissioned Guidance Note on preventing sexual harassment in the workplace from solicitors Anderson Strathern:

Get in touch

If you have links, events, information or resources you’d like to see added to this list and shared with the rest of the membership then please email hello@scottishtheatre.org