July 2019: A statement from Chris Goode (Artistic director, Chris Goode & Company)
Chris Goode & Company [CG&Co] is very sad to be confirming today that we have cancelled the Edinburgh Fringe production of our new show, Narcolepsy. We are also announcing that we are putting most of our public-facing work on hold for the time being.
The purpose of this statement is to explain the context around this decision.
In November 2017, an open letter was published by a former member of Ponyboy Curtis, an experimental performance ensemble I led independently of CG&Co between 2014-17. The letter raised a number of issues which indicated potential failures of safeguarding on that project.
Subsequently, in March 2018, we initiated an independent investigation in response to concerns raised by former colleagues, again mostly relating to the Ponyboy Curtis project. We co-operated actively with the investigation and put the company’s work on hold while this process was undertaken.
That investigation concluded in October 2018 and a report was delivered containing a number of useful recommendations for better safeguarding across our work. We readily accepted all of these recommendations and committed to using them as the basis of a new Code of Conduct for the company. Work on that document began in January 2019, but progress was unfortunately slow while we implemented vital staffing and infrastructural changes to the company to ensure that these commitments were deliverable.
Last month, we were contacted anonymously by a group of former colleagues forcefully expressing their concern that we were not focusing sufficiently on the work to which we had committed in the aftermath of the investigation.
At around the same time we received a formal complaint from the author of the November 2017 open letter. This complaint was submitted at our invitation, as part of the ongoing process of seeking satisfactory resolution with that individual.
In recognition of the crucial importance of dealing with these challenges thoroughly, carefully and respectfully, we are now putting almost all of our public-facing activity on hold, while we do the necessary learning, create a properly robust Code of Conduct, and take the right steps to ensure that everyone who engages with our work in future can have total confidence in the way we do it.
We are already working closely with key partners, including Arts Council England, to map out the best route forward for the company.
As the independent report acknowledges, we brought to this ambitious experimental work the intention of proper care and support for all participants; we are acutely aware that, for some, we have clearly fallen short, and unwittingly caused hurt and distress to valued colleagues. For this, we unreservedly apologise.
As I have made clear from the beginning, I would sincerely welcome any contact, either direct or via an intermediary, with anyone involved who would like to open up a dialogue with me around any of this.
In the interests of creating space for such genuinely constructive dialogue, we will not be making any further public comment at this time.
Finally, our apologies to everyone disappointed or inconvenienced by the cancellation of Narcolepsy. We hope it may be possible to return to this project in due course, but we will not hurry to do so while our priorities properly lie elsewhere.
10 July 2019