32. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht her views on the issue of sexual abuse and harassment exposed by women in the arts world both at home and abroad via movements (details supplied); the steps she is taking to address the gender inequality and systems of power that exist in the arts; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 10099/18 asked on 28 Feb 2018)
Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Josepha Madigan): I have repeatedly stated that everyone, regardless of their job, is entitled to work in an atmosphere in which respect, dignity, fairness and equality are very much the norm. I have also reaffirmed my continued commitment to measures aimed at eliminating workplace harassment in the arts and culture sector
Last November, my predecessor met with leaders of Irish theatre organisations who had co-signed a statement condemning sexual harassment and abuse of power in theatre in Ireland. The meeting focused on how the theatre sector could come together to discuss the issues that have arisen. It was agreed that my Department would assist in any practical arrangements in this regard.
My Department has since worked with the Irish Theatre Institute with a view to putting in place a series of actions that will find an appropriate way forward for the Theatre sector on this sensitive topic.
As a result the Institute will be hosting a one-day event for artists and organisations on March 21st in Liberty Hall, Dublin. Entitled Speak Up And Call It Out: Establishing a code of conduct for Irish theatre, the purpose of this event is to work towards the elimination of abuse of power and to safeguard the future health and wellbeing and career potential of those working in the sector by providing a code of conduct. A programme for the day will be announced on March 8th, International Women’s Day.
I hope that the output from the conference can be incorporated into existing measures in the not-for-profit sector while also considering if there are additional measures that can be taken for those who operate outside any organised structure.
In relation to the wider cultural sector, my Department will be organising governance workshops for the organisations that come under my direct remit. The Department is also liaising with the Arts Council in relation to the provision of similar training to all other cultural organisations and arts centres around the country through a series of regional information days.
There has to be a clear message accepted universally that a culture of dignity and respect at work is expected as a basic human right everywhere, regardless of the workplace.