The Old Vic Theatre has received 20 allegations of inappropriate behavior by Kevin Spacey during his 11-year run as artistic director. The London theater admitted that there was a “cult of personality” around the Swimming With Sharks star and that his “stardom” and “status” may have prevented people, in particular junior staff or young actors, from speaking up.
The storied company, which Spacey is credited with reviving after a long lull that nearly put it out of business, released the results of its investigation, run by law firm Lewis Silkin, after launching an anonymous hotline last month to allow staff and actors to speak out.
So far, according to the report, 16 staff members and four others came forward with a number of allegations against Spacey between 1995 and 2013.
Most of the alleged incidents happened before 2009. No “legal claims, formal grievances, formal disputes, settlement agreements or payments” were made in relation to Spacey during this period, according to the report. Only one of the individuals alleging inappropriate behavior came forward at the time or asked that no formal action be taken.
“During his tenure, The Old Vic was in a unique position of having a Hollywood star at the helm around whom existed a cult of personality. The investigation found that his stardom and status at The Old Vic may have prevented people, and in particular junior staff or young actors, from feeling that they could speak up or raise a hand for help,” it noted in a statement.
The allegations were a “shock and a disturbing surprise to many of us, “said Spacey’s successor, Matthew Warchus.
“I have genuine and deep sympathy for all those who have come forward and said they were hurt in some way by my predecessor’s actions,” the artistic director added. “Everyone is entitled to work in an environment free from harassment and intimidation. The Old Vic is now actively engaged in the process of healing and the process of prevention.”
Warchus also addressed a now familiar accusation in these cases. “It is incorrect, unfair and irresponsible to say that everybody knew,” he said. “But as a result of the investigation, what we have learnt is how better to call out this behaviour in future.
“These findings will help not only The Old Vic but our industry as a whole, as together we rapidly evolve an intelligent new standard of protection and support in and around the workplace. We are committed to a new way forward.”
The Old Vic Chairman Nick Clarry apologized to the victims. “Inappropriate behavior by anyone working at The Old Vic is completely unacceptable. We will foster a safe and supportive environment without prejudice, harassment or bullying of any sort, at any level. We want anyone who works here to feel confident, valued and proud to be part of The Old Vic family,” he added.