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The Legal and Ethical Obligations for Risk Management in Educational Theater

The safety of students in educational theater programs is a paramount concern. The National Association of Schools of Theatre (NAST) specifies that theater programs have a legal and ethical responsibility to mitigate potential hazards and prevent any foreseeable risks to students. This duty of care includes all aspects of the program, from facilities and equipment to personnel, and failure to fulfill it may result in legal liability for the program and its administrators. To fulfill their obligations, theater programs must establish enforceable solutions for risk management, including policies, training, and protocols for identifying and addressing safety concerns.

The ethical obligations of theater programs extend beyond basic safety concerns. NAST’s Code of Ethics emphasizes the importance of providing a supportive, inclusive, and equitable environment for all students. This includes promoting and encouraging diversity, inclusion, and accessibility, and developing curricula and productions that reflect these values. The ethical obligation also extends to promoting respectful and professional behavior among students and faculty, including the prevention of harassment and abuse.

One of the essential steps in risk management is identifying potential hazards, including physical, environmental, and emotional risks. This can include the risks associated with particular theatrical performances, such as pyrotechnics or complex rigging, as well as the risks associated with equipment and facilities. Regular hazard assessments should be conducted to identify and mitigate risks proactively, and a comprehensive emergency plan should be in place to respond to any incidents that may occur.

The role of instructors is crucial in mitigating risks in educational theater programs. Instructors must have the necessary qualifications and experience to ensure that students receive quality instruction and guidance. They should also be responsible for monitoring and enforcing safety protocols and emergency procedures. Regular training and professional development should be provided to ensure that instructors remain up-to-date with the latest safety procedures and techniques.

Another crucial role in risk management is the maintenance director. This individual is responsible for ensuring that facilities and equipment are safe and in good working condition. Regular inspections and maintenance schedules should be in place to address any issues before they pose a risk to students or staff. The purchasing agent also plays an important role in ensuring that equipment and materials meet safety standards and regulations.

Finally, the board of education has an essential role in ensuring accountability for the theater program. The board is responsible for overseeing the program’s administration and operations, including risk management protocols. Regular reporting and review of risk management strategies should be conducted to ensure that the program is fulfilling its obligations and providing a safe and supportive environment for all students.

In conclusion, the legal and ethical obligations of educational theater programs require that administrators take proactive steps to mitigate risks and ensure student safety. Enforceable solutions, including policies, training, and protocols, should be established to promote a culture of safety, inclusion, and respect. Regular hazard assessments, maintenance schedules, and emergency plans should be in place, and instructors and staff should be appropriately qualified and trained. The board of education plays an essential role in ensuring accountability for the program, and regular review and reporting of risk management strategies should be conducted to ensure that the program is fulfilling its obligations.


National Association of Schools of Theatre. (2017). Code of Ethics. Retrieved from

National Association of Schools of Theatre. (2017). Risk Management in Theatre Programs. Retrieved from

Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (2016). Entertainment. Retrieved from

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