Labour Research May 2023

Health & Safety Matters

Time for bullying to bow out

The Bectu broadcasting and entertainment section of the Prospect specialists’ union has launched a new campaign to tackle “increasing and extreme” anti-social behaviour from theatre audiences.

This follows the union’s survey of 1,500 theatre workers which found that 90% of respondents had personal experience of bullying, violence, intimidation, harassment or abuse at work.

Responses came from those predominantly working in front of house, hospitality, box office and stage door roles, as well as technical roles including sound and lighting.

They reported “regular brawls, vandalism, assault, racial abuse and more”. The survey also found that nearly half of respondents had considered leaving the industry as a result of poor audience behaviour.

Bectu’s Anything Doesn’t Go campaign includes calling on venue managements to sign up to a Safer Theatres Charter and to take a more “proactive, thorough and zero-tolerance approach” to anti-social audience behaviour.

The union is calling for clearer policies and procedures on unacceptable behaviour, pushing for safe staffing levels and adequate training, and the use of security measures where appropriate.

Bectu head Philippa Childs said: “People are coming to work fearing for their safety, facing regular abuse and struggling with the mental toll this behaviour can take, often with insufficient training or support.

“It is clear the industry needs to do better by its workers and we are calling on venues and industry bodies to commit to working with us to tackle this issue.”