Safe guarding in arts practice


14732397_10153911973285868_3067742739219293573_nWe are seeing daily articles and updates focusing on Harvey Weinstein, Terry Richardson and more recently Kevin Spacey to name a few. High profile arts professionals operating in plain sight. Plain sight. The power and control of individuals coupled with an industry in pursuit of richer arts and culture experiences at the expense of many. Some of you will have read articles about Max-Stafford- Clark

American Film director Victor Salva is a convicted Paedophile who continues to work with children and young people. He continues to work in film, receive finance and promotion. Roman Polanski famously fled America after admitting child rape, yet continues to make and produce films with a host of adoring stars. We now know that Harvey Weinstein operated in plain sight. Woody Allen has been accused of sexual abuse by his daughter, yet this goes unchallenged and he continues to work in the film industry.

So, how can we be sure that we are operating in a healthy work environment with so many disclosures of historic abuse occuring within arts and culture ? Do we all feel confident to challenge a lead artist, or support staff, or producer or commissioner if we see something that we feel uncomfortable about? Can you say that you would challenge inappropriate behaviour? Can you say that when you plan projects, events, performances that safeguarding is at the top of your planning?

It should be but is it…?

If we consider safeguarding issues for children and young people for a minute, whereby mulit agency safeguarding hubs in local authorities are designed for ANYONE to call if they have a concern about a child or young person. Safeguarding children is everyone’s responsibility. It is not just for the youth worker, the school setting staff or the contractor that has commissioned the artist- it includes the artist.

All arts organisations and individual artists who work directly with children and young people, or who are involved in providing services for them, have a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people.

Over my career i have seen and witnessed practice that i have had to challenge or to question and at times report. No doubt the first time that you do challenge a person or a practice, it can be uncomfortable and scary but it is vital and your concerns could very well add important elements to a jigsaw about someones practice.

It is high time we all take a health check about our practice in socially engaged arts practice, our own personal safeguarding policies, our own pursuit for great arts and culture. Check in. Don’t leave it to someone else to report.