Tête à Tête Inclusion Report 2020

Tuesday, 30th March 2021

We’re very pleased to be releasing the Tête à Tête Inclusion Report 2020. The following is a note from its lead author, Leo Doulton.


Introducing the Report


Tête à Tête has always been ahead of the wider operatic sector when it comes to equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI), and has an admirable track record of successes. These can be read in its annual evaluations. However, it also recognises that these are ongoing processes, and there is always a need for more work.


This report was commissioned to help the organisation continue to improve by gathering research on best practice, and examples of how other organisations approach similar challenges.


Based on this research, the report makes several recommendations. These are intended to inform a wider conversation internally and with everyone who comes into contact with Tête à Tête. They include ways to improve transparency, inclusion, and safeguarding in a growing organisation, collect the information needed to identify problems, and make sure that anyone can have access to the information they need to get involved and thrive as a part of the Tête à Tête community.


Some recommendations have already led to change, such as by doing more to explain the process of joining the Festival, and making data and reports on our activities easier to access. Others may take longer to implement. Some highlight challenges that need more reflection to find a solution appropriate to Tête à Tête’s values, size, and resources.


Sharing this report means that other organisations in the sector can read, learn from, and copy this report. It also means that people can see what we’re doing, which both helps build trust and ensure that people outside the organisation can offer their opinions and hold us to account when we get it wrong or should do better.


I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to this report, whether by having an informal conversation, responding to the associated survey, being on the advisory subcommittee, or otherwise, and especially my colleagues Bill and Anna for many helpful conversations. It would not have been possible without their support.


While I endeavoured to follow best practice at the time of writing, this document will inevitably contain errors as we move on as an organisation and society, and I will have doubtless overlooked valuable pieces of research and thought when creating it. Any such mistakes are my own.


Tête à Tête’s commitment to and successes in making everybody feel included can be seen in its past projects. Although there is always more work to be done, I hope this report helps that ongoing process.


Leo Doulton

Marketing Director, Tête à Tête


You can download the full report here.


Summary of Recommendations


Cultural Changes

1. Daylight is the best disinfectant – Tête à Tête should publish its EDI-related policies, action plans, and programming approaches, and publicly address concerns raised about Tête à Tête when they are raised. Since the report was written, Tête à Tête has updated its website and published many of these things. (Recommendations 1-3)

2. Changes in everyday culture – Tête à Tête should continue reflecting on how organisational norms might lead to people being excluded, ensure everybody who works for the company is given resources and training to address the issues identified, and is familiar with Tête à Tête’s EDI policies. (Recommendations 4-6, 14)

3. Tête à Tête should do more to explain what it does to challenge historical structures that perpetuate discrimination, and adopt anti-racism and anti-ableism as policy. (Recommendations 7-9)

4. Tête à Tête should continue fostering change from the bottom up. This might include having artist-chosen representatives or EDI-focused representatives on the board, continuing and developing its support for networks for marginalised groups in the operatic sector, or reverse mentoring. (Recommendations 10-12, 30)

5. Tête à Tête should make sure it avoids being defensive with excuses like “whataboutery,” unconscious bias, “no harm done,” and “we’re nice people.” (Recommendation 14)


What We Don’t Know Can’t Be Fixed

6. Tête à Tête already collects information about lead artists. Gathering hard data on participant companies’ cast and crew, people who express an interest in working with Tête à Tête, who returns to Tête à Tête, and what people get paid will help us identify gaps in who we serve. Comparing it both England and London will give that data a better context. (Recommendations 15-18, 31)

7. Let people complain. Having a clear and safe structure for people to report uninclusive behaviour, and a clear process for dealing with it quickly, will help safeguard people and identify problems. (Recommendations 19-21)


Being More Inclusive – Practical Steps

8. Tête à Tête receives lots of applications. It should make sure its opportunities are seen by a diverse range of artists, and that the process of joining the Festival or a Tête à Tête show is as clear as possible. (Recommendations 22-24)

9. Tête à Tête should review the ways that people get involved with the company to ensure that they include everybody, such as explicitly contextualised recruitment policies, or considering participant companies’ own EDI work. (Recommendations 25-27)

10. Where possible, Tête à Tête should expand its support of participant companies, such as by sharing EDI resources, offering mentoring/buddy systems, and clearly communicating the ways it can support companies, especially with fundraising efforts. (Recommendations 28-29)

11. Tête à Tête should reflect on ways that it can help artists plan ahead where necessary, while ensuring that artists who work on shorter timescales are not excluded. (Recommendations 32-36)

12. Tête à Tête should use its influence to help the wider sector, acting as an example to others and sharing its tools and methods for others to follow. (Recommendation 37)