Minister for Arts and Irish Theatre Institute launch ‘Safe to Create’ programme

Jane Daly, Minister Catherine Martin, Niamh O'Donnell and Siobhán Bourke. Photo by Mark Steadman

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin TD, along with Irish Theatre Institute (ITI), today launched a series of supports for artists and arts workers in Ireland as part of ‘Safe to Create’, a collaborative programme looking to transform workplace culture and practices, and to provide safe and respectful working conditions for those working in the arts.

‘Safe to Create’ has grown out of ITI’s ‘Speak Up: Dignity in the Workplace’ initiative, which commenced in 2018 after revelations of abuses of power in the arts sector in Ireland. The initiative culminated in the publication of the ‘Speak Up: A Call for Change’ report in October 2021. The report’s findings highlighted a culture of harmful workplace behaviour throughout the Irish arts sector, as well as a lack of supports to tackle the issue.

The ‘Safe to Create’ programme responds to a series of recommendations identified in the report. Funded by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, and coordinated by ITI in partnership with the Arts Council, Screen Ireland and Minding Creative Minds, supports include:

  • A resource-rich website, featuring practical information, guidance, toolkits and templates for artists, arts workers and organisations regarding ‘Dignity at Work’ rights and responsibilities.
  • The existing 24-hour wellbeing and support programme, run by Minding Creative Minds, is now enhanced to also feature specialist trauma and abuse counselling for victims of harmful behaviour. The programme includes a free 24/7 dedicated phone line; confidential one-to-one counselling; and access to legal advice.
  • A training programme developed specifically for the arts and creative sectors on ‘Dignity at Work’ issues, including topics of tackling bullying and harassment, unconscious bias, bystander training, intimacy coordination and more.
  • A Code of Behaviour that organisations are asked to adopt, developed to enable arts and creative organisations to create workplaces free from bullying, harassment and intimidation of any kind. The Code will be accessible on the ‘Safe to Create’ website, along with a register of organisations and individuals who have formally adopted and signed.
  • Workshop roadshows to provide information for individuals and support for organisations to utilise and implement the ‘Safe to Create’ supports and Code of Behaviour.
  • A ‘Report to Support’ system, designed to provide a facility for those working in the arts and creative sectors to report incidents of bullying, harassment and sexual harassment without the need to identify themselves or disclose sensitive and personal details. Reports submitted through this system will inform the development and delivery of supports (training, policies, legal supports, mediation and counselling). The ‘Safe to Create’ website also features information on steps to take to make a formal complaint/report.
  • A research programme of further study to examine the prevalence and impact of harmful behaviours in Ireland’s arts sector; and to measure the impact of the ‘Safe to Create’ programme.  

Speaking at the launch, Minister Martin said: “When I launched the Speak Up: A Call for Change Report in October 2021, I assured all of the respondents to the survey that their voices were heard.  Today’s launch of the ‘Safe to Create’ programme responds to a series of recommendations identified in that report. 

“With today’s launch, we are on the road to transforming workplace culture and practices and to providing safe and respectful working conditions for those working in the arts.  I am very pleased to work with and to fund the Irish Theatre Institute together with Screen Ireland, the Arts Council and Minding Creative Minds.  They have done amazing work rolling out these supports to artists, arts workers and organisations.  I would like to sincerely thank them for their dedication, and I look forward to continuing to build on today’s success. 

“While we know that these issues are not confined to the arts sector, through ‘Safe to Create’, we are leading the way in trying to improve and transform damaging norms. I hope that this extensive programme of supports will encourage other sectors to follow suit.”

Commenting on the supports launched today, Director of ITI, Niamh O’Donnell added: “Today’s launch marks the start of the implementation of the ‘Speak Up’ report recommendations and the next step on the journey to overhaul workplace conduct across the sector.

“Sector-wide issues require sector-wide action, and we are grateful to Minister Catherine Martin and her department for their funding and support. We look forward to continuing to work with them and our network of partners, including Minding Creative Minds, Screen Ireland and the Arts Council, to drive and further develop this programme. We are determined to improve working conditions for artists and art workers across the island of Ireland and to create a safe and dignified environment for everyone working in the sector.”

In the coming months, ITI will be working with its partners to implement and promote the supports announced today, to monitor the impact of measures taken and to collaborate with appropriate agencies to build effective monitoring, accountability and oversight mechanisms for harmful behaviour in the workplace in the arts sector in Ireland.


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