'Safe to Create' Workshops Announced for Cork, Galway, Dublin and Sligo

Luan Parle and Faye O’Rourke (Soda Blonde) at the launch of the Safe to Create programme (Photo: Mark Stedman)

'Safe to Create' Workshops Announced for Cork, Galway, Dublin and Sligo

New Government initiative aims to change workplace culture for artists and arts workers and address bullying, harassment and sexual harassment.

Safe to Create, a new national initiative announced by Minister for Arts Catherine Martin last week (5 October), will present four workshops around the country this November to support arts organisations and artists in making creative spaces safe.

The new Safe to Create programme, which is managed by the Irish Theatre Institute on behalf of the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media in partnership with the Arts Council, Screen Ireland and Minding Creative Minds, has developed a Code of Behaviour for the creative sector so that all artists and organisations know their rights and responsibilities. The workshops, titled ‘Code on the Road’ will take place in The Everyman, Cork (4 Nov.), An Taibhdhearc, Galway (10 Nov.), Project Arts Centre, Dublin (11 Nov.) and Hawk’s Well Theatre, Sligo (14 Nov.).

The Safe to Create website contains a number of resources to assist those working in music and the arts, including advice on recognising abusive behaviour such as bullying, harassment and sexual harrassment and what steps to take; a number of training programmes (online and in person) developed specifically for the creative sector; details on the Code of Behaviour; and an FAQ section. Later this year, Safe to Create will also launch a confidential online reporting system called Report to Support.

Speak Up report
The Safe to Create programme follows the report Speak Up: A Call for Change, which was published by the Irish Theatre Institute in October 2021. The report surveyed over 1,300 people working in the arts in Ireland and found that the majority had experienced and/or witnessed some form of harmful behaviour.

The report also follows other campaigns in the arts such as Fair Plé, which was set up in 2018 to address the issue of gender equality in Irish traditional music. 

In July 2020, following a number of social media posts detailing abuse under the hashtag #MiseFosta (‘me too’ in Irish), RTÉ Investigates broadcast a programme highlighting sexual abuse, bullying and harassment in Irish traditional music. In November 2021, artists from Fair Plé and #MiseFosta appeared before an Oireachtas committee and called for anti-harassment protocols for the Irish music scene. In the last week, there have also been allegations of unethical conduct in Irish dance in the form of fixing competitions and this has led to Riverdance withdrawing its sponsorship from competitions.

Minister Martin secured an additional €500k in this year’s budget in order to fund the initiative. Commenting on the programme, she said:

Since I launched the Speak Up: A Call for Change report in October 2021, my officials and I have been working closely with the Irish Theatre Institute, as well as Screen Ireland, the Arts Council and Minding Creative Minds who have done amazing work in getting us to where we are today. I would like to thank them for their dedication and hard work and, having secured an additional €500,000 in Budget 2023 for the Safe to Create programme, I look forward to continuing working with them into the future.

The Safe to Create programme is entirely built on, and informed by, the findings and recommendations in the Speak Up report and so the biggest thank you must go to every individual who responded to the initial Speak Up survey. Your voices and first-hand experiences set today in motion and will lead to a safer and more respectful working environment for all. Your courage has brought about positive change for the arts sector and I thank you most sincerely for that.

Among the other supports that the scheme will provide are a well-being and support service for victims of harmful behaviours, including one-on-one counselling, access to legal advice and a 24-hour trauma helpline, and a research programme to further study the prevalence and impact of harmful behaviours in Ireland’s arts sector.

For full details on the Safe to Create programme, visit www.safetocreate.ie. To register for the upcoming workshops, visit www.safetocreate.ie/training-resources/code-on-the-road/.

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Published on 11 October 2022

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