PiPA is 5 years old

Get out your party hats, pull your poppers, sing a song, and join us to celebrate this momentous occasion!

5 years ago today we brought together over 400 people (along with 70 little ones) working across dance, music, opera and theatre to find out whether being a carer or parent in the industry was an issue for others. Turns out it was, and still is, a real challenge for many, particularly for those facing additional barriers to work.

It has been 5 years of amazingly hard work, substantial industry impact, and a massive collective achievement...

We are also delighted to announce that PiPA is now a Charity with a fantastic Board of Trustees, as well as over 50 dedicated industry partners plus fantastic Ambassadors supporting us. We are immensely proud of what has been accomplished through these collaborations, in such a short amount of time.


  • Baseline Data: When PiPA was established there was very little data on the parent and carer workforce in the UK and none at all from the performing arts. In 2016-2017 PiPA undertook the first Best Practice Research project, in collaboration with The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. The aim of the research was to identify the challenges facing carers and parents working in theatre and, working in partnership with organisations, trial potential startegies to find solutions. This was followed by the Balancing Act in 2019, investigating the impact caring responsibilities on career progression in Dance, Music and Theatre, in collaboration with Birkbeck University. In 2020 we produced the Backstage Workforce Report in collaboration with BECTU and PiPA Partners, looking specifically at the unique and challenges facing those with caring responsibilities working backstage..
  • Best Practice Charter: Drawn up in 2017, as a direct response to the findings from the Best Practice Research Project, in collaboration with 15 leading performing arts organisations. The Best Practice Charter is a set of ten guiding principles for all professional performing arts organisations to enable the development of supportive working practices that are inclusive of those with caring responsibilities.
  • PiPA Charter Programme: Launched in 2018, the Charter Programme is a tried and tested monitoring and evaluation framework that enables performing arts organisations to work towards the Best Practice Charter, developing robust policies and working practices therby attracting and retaining a more diverse and flexible workforce. To date over 40 leading theatre, dance, opera and music companies have signed up to the programme.
  • Industry Changes: Our Best Practice Research in 2017 reported that 'there was no evidence of strategies such as job- sharing or restructuring roles being used in order to sustain the career development of part-time workers.' It also highlighted that flexible working was hugely popular but largely untested. Over the past five years there has been a seismic shift on both these fronts. We have seen job shares on and off-stage, performers and stage management, at executive level and everything else in between.

​The way we work has changed: family friendly rehearsal schedules, day time techs, childcare provision at castings, PiPA Champions across the country and much much more. Whilst Covid-19 has pushed flexibility and home working to the fore, pre-Covid the sector was seeing great improvements in attititudes towards flexibility in many areas of the workforce, but not all, and that is the key. How can we find the flex for everyone in the industry? What does genuinely inclusive employment look like for all and what are the practical steps we need to take to get there?

We don't have all the answers and are continually learning from our partners who have spent the past five years trialling innovative solutions to these challenges. Collectively we have amassed a huge amount of resources to pass on so these strategies can be adapted and adopted by all sizes and types of perfomring arts organisations. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but through shared learning, evaluation and innovation we have already seen the scale of change that is possible even in just a few years.

Our birthday wish is that we won't get to celebrate our tenth birthday because our work will be done.


Messages from Partners & Friends

“Now, more than ever, the interests of parents and carers in the performing arts need to be represented. PiPA have been doing this job admirably over the past five years and I wish Anna, Cassie and the team a happy anniversary” Mark Da Vanzo, Chief Executive, Liverpool Everyman & Playhous

“PIPA’s work has never been more important as the pandemic has hit the childcare sector and musicians with caring responsibilities hard. Freelancers have particular issues around caring responsibilities and it’s fantastic to have PIPA as thought leaders in this area providing practical solutions that work for musicians. We are delighted to have worked closely with PIPA over the past 5 years and look forward to seeing what they achieve in the next 5 years.” Naomi Pohl MU Deputy General Secretary

“It’s been a delight to be a PiPA Ambassador over the past few years. The direct support to artists is pivotal, and Anna and Cassie bring humanity and compassion to the work with a reassuring wink. I am thrilled to continue engaging in this vital conversation.Kerry Nicholls. International Coach, Change Leader and Director of Kerry Nicholls Dance

"As an Artistic Director, I passionately believe that everyone should be able to make and see theatre. As a mum, I know that the rich experience of parenting and caring is a vital part of the stories we tell and the way we tell them. PiPA are inspiring, encouraging and driving all of us to make this inclusivity part of the fabric of our industry. And in this moment, when we could so easily slip backwards, their work is more important than ever." Tamara Harvey, Artistic Director, Theatre Clwyd

"PIPA couldn't be more relevant today in doing essential work to shift the work ethic of our theatre industry towards greater care and respect for the human beings who deliver our greatest achievements." Sofie Mason, Bectu

"Working with PiPA has been one of the best experiences of my academic life. Cassie and Anna bring such energy and passion to everything they do. Their campaigning and commitment to best evidence is having a tangible impact on the sector. I can't wait for future collaborations" Professor Almuth McDowall, Assistant Dean, Birkbeck University of London

PiPA’s work is important now more than ever. Going through this period of a shift of focus from the workplace to not only the lives and health of our own families but a greater understanding of care towards our fellow human beings. However - at the same time our livelihoods are under threat especially in the performing arts industry and we need to protect people's ability to work whilst caring for their families and need to protect fees in order to make it possibly to live and survive within the industry after a long period of no income.” Anna Fleischle, Production Designer, PiPA Ambassador

PiPA have really helped us to consider how we ensure the needs of Parents and Carers are considered right across our organisation. This means we are not curtailing anyone's ability to contribute to our work, and we are able to support everyone regardless of their personal circumstances." Sarah Brigham, Chief Executive and Artistic Director, Derby Theatre

UK Theatre is proud to be a strategic Partner of PiPA. Attracting and retaining a diverse and flexible workforce is proven to increase business resilience. PiPA's research, advocacy and collaboration supports employers to enable parents and carers to maintain and grow their careers, enriching the performing arts and benefitting us all. Sebastian Cater, Head of UK Theatre

“We’re passionate about encouraging the broadest possible range of talent to thrive at Chichester Festival Theatre, and PiPA inspired us to set up a specific fund to enable those with caring responsibilities to work with us. Happy Birthday!” Kathy Bourne, Executive Director, Chichester Festival Theatre

“The expansive and inspirational work that PiPA has and continues to do to keep us all moving towards fairer and more accessible workplaces is more important now than ever for its impact on the current and future wellbeing of the sector.” Amanda Liddle, Federation of Scottish Theatres

“2020 has truly highlighted the importance of integrating parenting and caring while balancing work and family life. With the assistance of PiPA, we continue to learn, grow and share our experiences as an organisation that is creatively enriched by the diversity of our team.” Mercury Theatre Colchester

"We are proud to be members of PiPA and we support your work, advocating for and supporting our creative carers and parents. Tutti Frutti specialises in making work for children and families and we cannot make this work brilliant if we don’t support our teams who nurture and look after their own families. The carers and parents in our Tutti family make our work richer and more meaningful and we should never forget this and always consider what they need to help them to flourish creatively." Wendy Harris, Artistic Director, Tutti Frutti & Chair of PYA England

"PiPA is such a brilliant idea it's surprising someone hadn't done it before. But that is possibly because parenting whilst working in performing arts can be a huge, exhausting challenge, thus I think we all owe a huge shout out to Anna and Cassie who have done such a brilliant job of establishing this incredible charity. This year has proven just how valuable their work is - reaching out and supporting tens of thousands of parents whose work and creative workplaces have been affected by the pandemic.

We need PiPA more than ever" Vick Bain, PiPA Trustee

"Dance Professionals Fund gives financial support to parents and carers. PiPA is the ideal partnership to ensure that support is provided where it is most needed." Clemmie Cowl, Dance Professionals Fund

“Happy Birthday - we're so pleased to have been supporters of PiPA from its inception, and look forward to progressing accessibility and inclusivity in our industry for parents and carers.” The Old Vic

"SMA and parents and carers everywhere wish PiPA a very Happy Fifth Birthday and many happy returns.

PiPA makes us care about the way we work." Stage Management Association