Parents in Performing Arts and Central Announce New Best Practice Research Project

PIPA research project with Central - photo Brian Martin

Friday, 7 October 2016

Parents in Performing Arts (PIPA), a Consortium of 18 leading Industry organisations, have announced their first major piece of work, a Best Practice Action Research Project to be undertaken with Central’s Dr Tom Cornford as the project’s Research Lead.

PIPA campaigns for equal opportunities and access to work for those with caring responsibilities, and with the aim of achieving sustainable change in attitudes and practices in order to attract, support and retain a more diverse and flexible workforce.

Funded by Central together with The Arts Council of England, Creative Scotland, Actors’ Children’s Trust, UK Theatre and The Family Arts Campaign, the aim of the research is to identify barriers facing carers working in the performing arts, and to investigate practical ways of reducing them. The outcome will be a Best Practice Charter to be embedded in Family Arts Standards in conjunction with the Family and Childcare Trust as well as other performing arts industry guidelines.

PIPA’s first of its kind Best Practice Action Research Project will be led by PIPA co-founders Cassie Raine and Anna Ehnold-Danailov with Dr Tom Cornford from Central. 15 leading UK theatres will participate in the project: The Old Vic (PIPA lead organisation), Royal Court Theatre, Northern Stage, Hull Truck Theatre, Donmar Warehouse, English Touring Theatre, Theatre by the Lake, Everyman & Playhouse Liverpool, National Theatre of Wales, Bristol Old Vic, Birmingham Repertory Theatre and Mercury Theatre, National Theatre of Scotland, Dundee Rep and Stellar Quines Theatre Company.

Matthew Warchus, Artistic Director of The Old Vic, said:

“I couldn’t be more strongly supportive of this research being done and us striving as an industry to identity more and better solutions to the challenges faced by parents and carers juggling their family commitments and a career in the performing arts.  This highly necessary project will help us all to understand better the reality of managing that balance across this varied industry and, I hope, inform practical steps for the future.”

Dr Tom Cornford, Central’s Lecturer in Theatre and Performance and the project’s Lead Researcher, said:

"I am delighted to be working with PIPA on this Best Practice Research Project and leading UK theatres. It is a key aim of Research at Central to combine intellectual enquiry with the needs and aspirations of contemporary professional practice, and it is a privilege to work on a project that responds to this challenge and promises to achieve tangible change in a crucial aspect of working life."

The first stage of the research will be to gather qualitative and quantitative data through a survey & interviews of present employees, and freelancers over past 6 months at the 15 participating theatres followed by 6 months trialling possible solutions, exploring barriers and developing creative strategies to overcome them. Participating theatres will participate in 3 symposia to share learning, and will work in focus groups with support from the research team to manage the trials, before coming together in June 2017 to formulate the Best Practice Charter that will be launched in September 2017.

I am delighted to be working with PIPA on this Best Practice Research Project and leading UK theatres. It is a key aim of Research at Central to combine intellectual enquiry with the needs and aspirations of contemporary professional practice, and it is a privilege to work on a project that responds to this challenge and promises to achieve tangible change in a crucial aspect of working life.

Dr Tom Cornford