Campaign/Initiative/Fundraiser / Community / Entertainment Industry / Performing Arts

John Simm and Vicky Featherstone back industry-wide campaign to support parents in the sector

The Stage
Matthew Hemley
28 Sep 2015

Actors and directors including John Simm, Romola Garai and Vicky Featherstone are backing an industry-wide initiative aimed at supporting parents working in the entertainment sector.

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Actor John Simm is supporting the Parents in Performing Arts initiative. photo: Tristram Kenton

Parents in Performing Arts seeks to identify and raise awareness of “the child-related challenges facing parents” working in theatre and on screen.

It claims it wants to prevent creative professions from becoming a “playground for the wealthy, or those free of dependents” and has drawn up a list of objectives for the sector. These include affordable creches and establishing best practice in the industry.

The campaign has been co-formed by actor Cassie Raine and director Anna Ehnold-Danailov and is being supported by industry bodies including Equity and Stage Directors UK.

Raine explained that she met Ehnold-Danailov through Prams in the Hall, a theatre company that supports parents in the sector by allowing them to bring children into the rehearsal room, which prompted the idea for a unified campaign.

Raine said PIPA’s aim was to “start a dialogue” in the sector and “get the subject out into the open”.

“We want practitioners to work in an entertainment industry that values all artists equally, thinks innovatively about how to employ parents, and challenges the assumption that a creative profession isn’t compatible with parenthood,” Raine said.

The campaign is also highlighting research carried out by PIPA member Laura Wells, who surveyed 500 parents within the sector. It reveals that 74% of parents in the industry have had to turn down work because of their childcare responsibilities.

The campaign has launched a manifesto which states that its aim is to support parents in the industry by providing information, help and practical solutions.

Its objectives include using the results of its survey to “support the case for cultural and institutional change”.

The campaign also wants to launch “back to work schemes” and training programmes, including affordable creches for working parents.

It is also calling for childcare benefits to better serve people working in the sector, and for theatres to hold more “parent-friendly” performances.

Raine said the plan was for PIPA to eventually employ a full-time member of staff to conduct research on the best practice already going on in the sector and look at how ideas can be implemented.

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