The Federation of Entertainment Unions (FEU) has launched a campaign to counter the problem of bullying in the arts industry across the UK. Entitled 'Creating Without Conflict' the campaign kicks off with a survey via all of the major arts related unions including BECTU and Equity.
Initially the campaign aims to find out just how wide spread the problem is across the industry from dance companies to television stations (looking at you BBC). The FEU suggest that bullying arises, in many cases, because of the lack of job security in the industry as a whole.
"There are always others who can take your place if you complain. Unpaid internships are widespread which puts young people in a vulnerable position. Many workers are self-employed or freelance and are denied the protection that being on staff can afford,"
The campaign information thus far does not make it clear what the unions intend to do about the problem once the survey is complete.
In October of last year we interviewed Anne Marie-Quigg, a freelance arts consultant, who has written a book specifically about bullying in the arts; "Bullying in the Arts: Vocation, Exploitation and Abuse of Power". Ms Quigg explained at the time that getting the larger arts organisations to address the problem of bullying was an uphill struggle.
When dealing with Arts Council England Ms Quigg told us;
"When I got to the Arts Council my first email was directly to Alan Davey (ACE CEO) to ask him if he was able to make a statement and I got no reply. A month later I sent another email to Alan Davey and this time I got a reply from someone in his organisation who said that he was unable to reply to me at this time.
That person trotted out a few of the things about the Arts Council's policies, which I already knew, which was that they themselves have an internal policy, a dignity at work policy, but that it is not their business to interfere in the internal management practices of the organisations that they fund."
Discovering the extent of the problem would appear to be the logical first step but without widespread reforms and protections for those that come forward the research itself may be of little practical use.
You can find out more about the project on the BECTU website.