Online Abuse – A Toolkit for the Cultural Sector

Is online abuse a problem for the cultural sector?

Unfortunately, it is. The Space conducted a small survey in 2019 that revealed that 42% of respondents had received virulent criticism or attacks online, including online abuse, trolling and personal attacks. Only 17% felt they knew how to deal with it.

Almost three-quarters (72%) said that online guides or top tips for how to protect yourself and your organisation and content online would help.

But is there anything we can do about it?


You can put robust plans in place to protect your organisation, staff, systems and freelancers should an incident occur. Being prepared means you will have the protocols and support systems ready to deal with an attack if it happens and minimise its impact.

If you are currently experiencing online abuse, the toolkit includes a checklist for getting through the Here and Now, including advice about how to check your privacy settings, how to report the abuse to the relevant platforms and (if appropriate) the authorities as well as a list of other resources that could help. Also, please think about what community and emotional support you can access to support your mental health and wellbeing.

The Space’s toolkit is designed as a pragmatic guide for artists and cultural organisations:

  • To understand online abuse – what the terminology around it means
  • To show its impact, with case studies from those who have been victims
  • To guide you through what to think about to prepare and protect your organisation
  • To introduce the concept of privacy check-ups and explain why they are important
  • To give you a checklist of what to think about if you are currently under attack
  • To offer a list of external resources that might help you to prepare for or respond to online abuse.

It was shaped by conversations with a steering committee of artists and arts sector professionals.

If you would like more information about the range of support The Space offers to help arts and heritage organisations plan for and respond to online abuse, including risk assessments, consultancy and bespoke training, please do contact us.

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