Julia Watson on PIPA, Parents In Performing Arts

Alongside more than 400 people, including 70 children, Peter Forbes and I attended the PIPA launch at the Young Vic on 16th October 2015.  Speakers included Romola Garai, Poppy Burton Morgan, Stephen Unwin, Rakie Ayola, Adam Burns, John Summerfield, Annelie Powell and Sophie Mayer.  We had Spotlight sessions from Stage Directors UK, Family Arts Campaign, The RSC Creche, Act for Change, Theatre Clwyd, Tonic Theatre, Mothers Who Make, Good Enough Mums Club.

As a parent I was interested to hear if anything had changed since I had a young baby in the 1990s.  I remember being let down by a babysitter and being forced to take my new-born daughter with me to an audition.  The female casting director was very unimpressed and told me it made me look unprofessional.  I never did it again.

From the PIPA day it became very evident that very little has changed:  it is a struggle to maintain a career once children appear.  The cost of childcare is astronomical and often difficult to source on an ad hoc basis – when you don’t do an 9-5 job and only need childcare to cover auditions or for that sudden run of work.  Most of us don’t have grandparents close by.  It seems that only the RSC at Stratford has a creche.

What is great is that a group of industry professionals have decided to create an organisation spotlighting the situation and campaigning for better facilities and understanding.

ACT hopes to work with PIPA in the near future.  Watch this space. In the meantime, do follow PIPA’s social media feeds.

PIPA =  http://www.pipacampaign.com

Julia Watson

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