Guardians Programme

‘We devised the Guardians Programme in dialogue with our staff to enshrine our values and workplace culture. It grew out of our desire to help reassure people they have a voice.  We want everyone to have a way to share their concerns with someone outside of the ‘regular’ reporting line. Our Guardians actively listen and support, offering confidential advice on options, with discretion and empathy. The idea is simple and therefore easy for others to implement and benefit. It’s heartening that so many have already done just that through the Guardians Network. And it is incredible to see the commitment in both the arts and other sectors in embracing a solution that helps reframe how our workforces share concerns, escalate issues, and enjoy working together respectfully.’
Kate Varah, Executive Director

The Old Vic Guardians are a group of trained staff who offer a confidential outlet for colleagues to share concerns about behaviour or the culture at work.

The Guardians programme is an Old Vic innovation designed to help any organisation go further in its commitment to creating a safe and secure working environment for all. The information pack about how to create a Guardians Programme is available for download below.

Additionally, a Guardians Network has been formed to bring together the group of organisations from all sectors (not just the arts) who have implemented the principles of a Guardian Programme.

We have created a practical guide so there is no barrier to implementation no matter what size the organisation or the level of their resource. And, through the Network, organisations can access pro bono legal training for their Guardians three times a year from Lewis Silkin, share best practice within the group on anonymised trends and learnings and centralise resources.

Each organisation, each industry, will have experiences and solutions with universal application that, through this open collaboration of resources and ideas, will benefit and strengthen us all.

The Guardians Network

AKA, BFI, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Bush Theatre, Camphill Village Trust, Chichester Festival Theatre, English National Ballet, English National Opera, Exeter Northcott Theatre, Hampstead Theatre, Lewis Silkin LLP, Lyric Hammersmith, National Portrait Gallery, National Theatre of Scotland, New Adventures, Nottingham Playhouse, Nuffield Southampton Theatres, Playful Productions, Police Now, Rifco Theatre Company, Rose Theatre Kingston, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Runaway Entertainment, Sheffield Theatres, Society Of London Theatre & UK Theatre, Soho Theatre, Southbank Centre, Tate, The Gate and The Old Vic.

If you would like any further information about the Programme, or to join the Network, do contact Executive Director, Kate Varah  by email or Head of Business Development, Rowena Russell by email or 020 7928 2651.


In addition to our own initiatives, we are committed to UK Theatre and SOLT’s Ten Principles. These offer a shared vision to promote a safe and inclusive workplace environment that is positive and supportive, and that everyone – employers, employees, workers, freelancers, volunteers, directors and trustees – should adhere to.

The Old Vic is also proud to be a part of the Lewis Silkin movement #aLastingChange, which is a useful resource for ideas, collaboration, information, legal insight and opinions on how we can create a long-lasting improvement in women’s experience of work and overall make the working environment a better place for everyone.*

* To access free precedent and share resources, go to