Wanted: Whistleblowers in the Arts

Wanted: Whistleblowers in the Arts (downloadable pdf) by Rebecca Atkinson-Lord: A call for more accountability in “an industry built on trust.” Originally posted in The Guardian.


Whenever two or more theatre people gather, you hear whispers. The whispers cover a lot of ground, from financial malpractice to petty bullying and general incompetence. Of course, not all that I hear might be true, but sometimes multiple stories about the same subject converge and it becomes impossible to dismiss the possibility that at their heart lies a kernel of truth.

There are the stories of sexual harassment, bullying, and dishonesty. There are the organisations that claim ownership over an artist’s work in exchange for virtually nothing; the marketing departments that never deliver what they promise; and the funding applications filled with misdirection and sleight of hand. Everybody has a story. But those stories are rarely more than whispered: there are truths universally acknowledged but never fully voiced. And recently I’ve started to wonder why.

Why don’t we call each other out more? Identify the bad apples for the greater good? Imagine: if every money-wasting incompetence or petty dishonesty was called to account, what would the savings amount to?

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