Meet The Campaigners: Parents and Carers in Performing Arts (PiPA)

Parents and Carers in Performing Arts (PiPA) is a nationwide organisation that raises awareness of the unique challenges facing parents and carers in the performing arts.

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Meet The Campaigners is a series where campaigners in the music industry tell us about their organisations, what changes they are trying to make and what they are currently working on. Here, Cassie Raine, the co-founder and Director and co-Founder and Creative Director Anna Ehnold-Danailov of Parents and Carers in Performing Arts (PiPA) discusses the organisation’s latest work.

Parents and Carers in Performing Arts (PiPA) is a nationwide organisation raising awareness of the unique challenges facing parents and carers in the performing arts.

PiPA works with employers and industry bodies to develop equality of opportunity, prevent talent loss, enhance artistic output and build a performing arts sector that is inclusive of parents and carers and truly representative of the society it serves.  

A picture of singer-songerwriter Emmy The Great performing on stage.

Pic Credit: Emmy The Great

Picture of Emmy The Great asleep on a tour bus next to her baby in a baby carrier.

Emmy the Great on tour with her baby. You can read Emmy’s experiences of being on tour as a parent by clicking on the image. Pic Credit: Emmy the Great

PiPA’s work has brought about tangible change. In 2017 the PiPA Best Practice Charter was launched; a set of 10 guiding principles developed with and for organisations to support them to work towards becoming more family friendly employers.  

PiPA co-Founder and Creative Director Anna Ehnold-Danailov says:

“Seven years ago we were told it wasn’t possible to change the way we work in the performing arts, but we’ve seen a sea change across the theatre sector since then.

From family-friendly welcome packs to alternative rehearsal hours, we are now even seeing backstage and on-stage job shares; and tours that are being booked to ensure performers and crew return home to spend much needed quality time with family.” 

In 2022, PiPA published Bittersweet Symphony, reporting on the challenges faced by parents and carers in classical music.

A graphic that says: " As artists, we strive to be relevant to our world, and it is essential that the people creating the work have the widest possible range of lived experiences." Tasmin Little OBE, PiPA Ambassador. Read the #BittersweetSymphony Report from PiPA.

Pic Credit: Benjamin Ealovega

Key findings include: 

  • Nine out of ten musicians, composers, opera singers and conductors reported turning down work due to caring responsibilities, with mothers and female carers twice as likely as fathers and male carers to turn down work.
  • Parents and Carers experience a £6,000 pay penalty, with women, single parents, self-employed and those without social or financial capital being at particularly high risk of facing greater career penalties (up to £8,000 for self-employed women).
  • Four out of ten respondents to the survey are thinking of leaving their careers in music due to caring responsibilities.
  • 4% of respondents referenced a supportive employer, with the vast majority relying on a network of support from family, partners or friends to help them manage work and family. 

Cassie Raine, PiPA co-Founder and Executive Director, who led the research says:

“The fact that just 4% of survey respondents referenced a supportive employer in music is worrying, but also presents a huge opportunity for the sector.

“We have accumulated a library of resources, ‘how-to’ guides and case studies through working with a range of organisations of all scales, from touring to producing to receiving companies and venues.

A graphic that says: "It's a huge juggle being both a parent and a freelance musician." Anna Phoebe, PiPA Ambassador, violinist, composer, Ivors Academy Board Director. Read the #BittersweetSymphony report.

Pic Credit: Rob Blackham

“Through sharing these insights and learning it’s our aim to reverse that figure and ensure that employers are fully equipped to sustainably support parents and carers in music.”

In 2022, PiPA collaborated with UK Music to drill into insights on caring responsibilities in the music industry via the biennial Diversity Report. It brought data on parents and carers that was a first for the music sector: 

  • The survey revealed that parents and carers are underrepresented in the music industry (29.7% compared to 44% of UK working population). 
  • Of the 68% respondents with no care responsibilities, the majority are female, pointing to a loss of female talent when they become mothers or carers. 

2023 will see PiPA launch its programme in music and is currently working with partners in music to develop a music specific charter.

Anna concludes: “The development of a PiPA music-specific best practice charter will create a shared vision for change for the sector from which we can progress our support programme and develop a bespoke range of resources for employers and individuals in music, increasing resilience across the sector through flexibility, community and provision.

“PiPA aims to ensure the music sector is accessible and inclusive of parents and carers and reflective of wider UK society.”

Find out more about PiPA here.

Read the Diversity Report 2023 here.

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