There is an undeniable imbalance in gender representation amongst playwrights, directors and theatre creators: we have statistics and reports and straw polls to demonstrate this.
As part of working to address these gender inequities, the PACT Diversity and Cultural Diversity Committees are working together to encourage PACT members to make a pledge – to publicly declare an action they will take to help achieve equity in their company and, by extension, in our industry.
Many of our members have made a pledge – to do something to foster equity by implementing change in their own organizations: at the board level, in artistic decisions, in strategic plans, and more. We acknowledge and celebrate these steps forward and hope that those yet to make a pledge will be inspired by the actions of our colleagues. Many pledges are aimed at addressing not only around issues of gender equity but other marginalized and under-represented communities.
Individual efforts can cumulatively effect collective change. Each PACT member can choose how they wish to contribute, knowing that their actions, no matter how big or small, make a big picture difference.
Together We Can Do More
We know that every PACT member has a choice about what’s right for your company – what changes you’re able to make, and what tools work for you. We encourage you to choose an action that tackles inequity! And know that the Diversity and Cultural Diversity Committees stand with you and will work with you on whatever you take on.
If you want to make a pledge send an email to Membership & Communications Manager Meg Shannon letting us know what action you want to take. You don’t even need a fully formed idea! We’ll help with that part. Once we hear from you we’ll get in touch and make a plan with you.
Some companies have already come forward to make pledges. They’re listed here to serve as inspiration and guidance for pledges to come.
Alberta Theatre Projects pledges to track and be aware of the diversity on their stage each season, and plans to make deliberate and informed programming choices to achieve gender equity.
Manitoba Theatre for Young People pledges to reinstate the position of Artistic Associate in order to maintain a balanced gender view in all of our programming.
Great Canadian Theatre Company pledges to create a system of receiving and reviewing scripts that removes gender identifiers during the process.
The Stratford Festival pledges to increase the diversity of teaching artists doing in-school training.
Geordie Productions pledges to attempt to reach gender parity on their board of directors.
Carousel Theatre for Young People pledges to undertake an organization-wide audit of gender and cultural representation over the last 4 seasons.
Theatre Direct pledges that, as a company devoted to young audiences and one that is directly influenced by our collaborations with young people, they will work to increase the number of young people from diverse cultural communities participating in their programs through outreach efforts and continued commitment to removing economic, social, and physical barriers.
Belfry Theatre pledges to produce a season of plays all written by female playwrights for 2016-2017.
Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan pledges to have more female actors than male actors in the 2016 season and to have 50% of the guest directors be female.
Touchstone Theatre pledges to undertake an organization-wide audit of gender and cultural representation over the last 4 seasons.
Theatre New Brunswick pledges to equally balance a diversity of voices on stage and off in their programming, including these plans for their 2015-2016 season:
- Of 9 productions, 4 are directed by women and 1 by an artist of colour
- Having 15 women on stage in and 11 men.
- The first two productions of the season are a solo performance featuring an actor of colour, followed by a presentation of Life, Death, and the Blues featuring two actors of colour.
- Having 14 women and 10 men on our design teams for productions.
- Applying for Canada Council residency funding to create a play with a First Nations artist, and having that artist teach as part of our Theatre School.
- Reaching gender parity in our playwriting unit The HIVE.
Globe Theatre pledges to:
- Ensure that a minimum of 50% of directors are women.
- For the 2015-2016 season 5 out of the 6 main stage directors are women and on the second stage 3 out of 6 are women.
- Program plays written by women on the main stage and second stage.
- The 2015-2016 season yielded very poor results on the Main Stage 1 out of 6 plays was written by a woman.
- On the Second Stage 3 out of 5 plays were written by women. We are striving to do better next year!
- Mentor women into leadership roles throughout the organization. In 2015-2016: the board chair Board and 2 out of 3 senior management are women as well as the Marketing Manager, Box Office Manager, Director of Development, Company Manager, Director of IT and Finance, House Manager, Head Carpenter and Theatre School Director.
- Achieve Greater Gender Equity on Stage. On the Main Stage more than 50% of the actor contracts for this season are for women.
Repercussion Theatre pledges to:
- Ensure their Shakespeare-in-the-Park artistic team (directors, designers and actors) will be comprised of at least 50% women each summer.
- Commit to presenting the cultural diversity of Montreal’s communities on our stage, and to bringing a plurality of voices into “the room” in order to affect how we interpret, engage with and present Shakespeare’s plays.
- To build on existing accessibility work and values at the company (performing in physically accessible public parks, taking ‘freewill donations’ as opposed to ticket sales, offering an app to patrons that translates show scripts into French) by making their work more accessible to deaf audiences.
Boca del Lupo pledges to continue to support a cohort of women of colour, mixed race and aboriginal heritage through a monthly, peer directed, professional development initiative known as The 3.7% Named for the percentage of roles available to women of colour within the Canadian Performance milieux, this initiative focuses on career development and personal empowerment for early and mid career artists.
Looking for pledge ideas?
Here are some more examples of things you can do to foster great diversity in your company.
The following suggested pledges (and more!) can be found in the “Achieving Equity in Canadian Theatre: A Report with Best Practice Recommendations” April 2015 Prepared by Michelle MacArthur. The recommendations are more thoroughly discussed in this document and include organizations worldwide who have implemented these actions and the varying success that they found. There is also a gender equity checklist, created by the Swedish Union for Performing Arts and Film, in the report.
- Conduct internal audits of administrative practices and identify weaknesses
- Set organizational targets to achieve and enforce parity
- Ensure that gender is not subsumed under overarching institutional goals or ambiguous diversity mandates, and clearly articulate goals related to recruiting and retaining more women
- Develop policies and procedures to ensure theatres comply with human rights laws and professional codes of conduct
- Require administration, hiring managers, and creators to take self-assessment tests to uncover their own biases
- Remove all indicators of gender, age, and race from decision making contexts
- Create consistent interview processes that aim to eliminate bias and discrimination
- Use a blind submission process for vetting scripts
- Rectify imbalances by programming more work by women and people of colour
- Take advantage of resources (such as the EIT database) to recruit more women
- Track demographics about women within individual theatre companies to aid in the development and implementation of equity initiatives; collect these statistics annually to identify trends and changes
- Create flexible work environments that accommodate different needs, such as those of parents and elder care providers
- Initiate conversations with commissioned playwrights about roles for women; encourage playwrights to create more meaningful roles for women
- Support the advancement of assistant directors to directors by providing mentorship, training, and fellowships
- Partner with educational institutions to provide training to underrepresented groups, such as women lighting and sound designers
- Ally with colleagues belonging to the same professional organizations to advocate for pay equity between masculinized and feminized jobs
- Create a resource kit for pregnant actors, outlining responsibilities and considerations for both actors and their employers
Advocacy and Awareness
- Form audience advocacy groups to organize outings to plays by women and productions featuring an equitable number of artistic and technical roles for women; arrange discounts to these productions and make theatres aware of the demand for women’s work
- Rate representations of women using the Bechdel test
- Create awards for theatre companies that meet equity targets
- Curate a list of plays by women and other equity-seeking groups and make it publicly available online
- Ally with men to advocate for gender equity; men can refuse to participate in theatres that don’t program women in their seasons