Theatre workers eye code of behaviour after Gate controversy

Day of action will push for cultural change and elimination of bullying and harassment

Gate board review has found its former artistic director Michael Colgan has a “case to answer” in relation to dignity at work, inappropriate behaviour and abuse of power. He denies these findings. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Gate board review has found its former artistic director Michael Colgan has a “case to answer” in relation to dignity at work, inappropriate behaviour and abuse of power. He denies these findings. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

A new code of behaviour to protect Irish theatre practitioners is being drawn up following an independent review of allegations of harassment at the Gate Theatre.

Theatre workers are to meet in Liberty Hall, Dublin, later this month in a collective “day of action” designed to introduce a robust and workable code of behaviour and push for a cultural change in the sector.

This follows the release on Thursday by the Gate board of a review into the behaviour of its former artistic director Michael Colgan.

This found he had a “case to answer” in relation to dignity at work, inappropriate behaviour and abuse of power. Mr Colgan has denied the findings contained in the report.

The publication of the review was welcomed in the sector, following the controversial initial decision of the board to withhold it.

The report has been posted on the theatre’s website so interested parties can read it but it is due to be removed after three days.

Current controversies

The planned event on March 21st, “Speak Up and Call It Out: Establishing a Code of Behaviour for Irish Theatre”, is an initiative of the Irish Theatre Institute. Backed by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, it was announced on International Women’s Day, and is in line with calls to action in theatres in the UK and Australia.

In an attempt to look beyond current controversies, organisers Siobhán Bourke and Jane Daly, directors of Irish Theatre Institute, said it would not be a series of personal testimonies on past events but would look to the future in a bid for transparency, protection and accountability in Irish theatre.

The aim was to draw up a code of behaviour that could act as a template for organisations in the sector, backed up by training from the Arts Council.

Contributors will include writer/director Grace Dyas, whose blog sparked off the Gate controversy; actor Andrea Irvine; Sarah Durcan, who has worked on Amplify Women, a toolkit for dealing with bullying and harassment; Karan O’Loughlin of Siptu; and Ita O’Brien, a movement and intimacy director who works in theatre and film internationally. Minister for Arts Josepha Madigan will give an opening address.