Advance is a six-month programme designed and led by Tonic Theatre. Bringing together cohorts of leading performing arts organisations, we support them to understand the root causes behind gender imbalances within their own companies and art forms, and provide them with the tools by which they can achieve meaningful change. To date, 20 organisations have participated in Advance.

Advance 2016 - Dance Opera, Theatre
Clean Break
Mahogany Opera Group
National Theatre
New Wolsey Theatre
Northern Ballet
Northern Stage
Royal Opera House
Sadler's Wells logo
Advance 2014 - Pilot: Theatre
Chichester Festival Theatre
English Touring Theatre
Gate Theatre
Royal Shakespeare Company
Sheffield Theatres
Tricycle Theatre
West Yorkshire Playhouse
Young Vic


Advance was created in response to increasingly loud questioning from within the performing arts industries as to why, despite previous gains and recent signs of progress, when it comes to female talent being visible on the most prestigious and best resourced stages in the country, there is still far to go.

Advance seeks to catalyse concentrated change within a cohort of highly influential companies, thereby paving the way for broader, sector-wide progress.

But surely it's got to come down to the best person for the job?

Advance isn’t about curtailing creative freedom, nor is it about forcing performing arts companies’ to employ less talented individuals. What it is about is making sure that when opportunities arise, it really is the most talented people who get them, regardless of gender.
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Are we still talking about this?

Yes we are. Despite a recent burst of progress, there’s still a long way to go, and the presence of a small number of talented women at the top doesn’t mean we’re equal. But Advance isn’t just talking about talking; it’s about actively seeking to understand where inequalities exist, and then acting to address them.
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Is this another well-intentioned but ultimately ineffectual scheme?

We don’t think so. What makes Advance different is that it is led by the companies themselves, it arises from a need that they have identified, and is designed to equip them with a sophisticated understanding of how to address inequalities at the root, rather than advocating short-term ‘sticking plaster’ solutions. This isn’t about surface change; it’s about going to the heart of these organisations’ working processes.
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