The Old Vic Theatre in London has received personal testimonies from 20 Staff members alleging inappropriate behaviour by Kevin Spacey who was its artistic director for over a decade. The theatre says that the actor’s cult of personality prevented staff from voicing their concerns over his actions and there was a lack of accountability on his part.

A culture of silence

The staff members and actors at the Old Vic reported their encounters with Kevin Spacey and said they felt unable to raise their concerns. The theatre apologised for not creating the conditions where staff felt they could speak freely.

The investigation revealed that with the exception of one, none of the claims was previously brought to management’s attention and that young staff, in particular, felt intimidated by Spacey’s status and stardom, preventing them from asking for help. One man said he had reported his concerns to management at that time but there was no action taken.

Personal testimonies

The law firm of Lewis Silkin was hired by the theatre to carry out the investigation into Spacey’s alleged misconduct through a confidential process. Of the twenty individuals who gave their personal testimonies, 16 were former staff. Those interviewed made allegations of inappropriate behaviour, but it was noted in the investigation's conclusion that none of the accusers were minors at the time of the alleged incidents.

Many of those who saw the behaviour claim they did not know how to respond. In many cases they did not consider that reports of misconduct were serious and when they felt it was serious, they didn’t think the Old Vic would be responsive given the status of the accused.

The Vic apologises

Amid strong criticisms in light of the allegations against their one-time director, the theatre has apologised for an environment that made it difficult for people to raise concerns.

Kate Varah, the company's executive director said that everyone should feel safe and free to speak out. She noted that the revelations also meant a new way forward for the organisation. The investigation concluded that the star power associated with Spacey played a part in the organisation's failure.

Kevin Spacey was appointed the artistic director of the 1,000 seat non-profit Old Vic Theatre company in 2003 and held the position until 2015. His goal was to invigorate the British theatre industry and bring in a new crop of American and British talent.