Tonic approached a range of theatres about taking part in Advance many of whom we’d already been having conversations with or who had expressed their desire to us to make progress in terms of how they work with female theatre artists.
The 11 that joined us for the inaugural version of Advance were:
Some of these theatres came on board because they recognised they had further to go when it came to gender equality on their stages; others because they felt they were already taking positive steps and wanted to find ways to amplify this across the industry. What they all have in common is being one of Arts Council England’s National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs), meaning they are among the 179 theatre organisations to receive core funding from Arts Council England between 2012-15.
The group encompassed a wide range of size and type of theatre company, from the Royal Shakespeare Company which has a two auditorium theatre complex, a national and international large-scale touring profile, West End presence, and employs over 1000 people, through to Pentabus which tours village halls, theatres and festivals and has just four core members of staff. Bringing together a mixture of large, mid-scale, and small organisations, and a blend of building-based and touring companies was a conscious decision on Tonic’s part; we wanted to test how different types and scale of theatres would respond to the approach of Advance, and the level of success with which they could work collectively as a cohort. Tonic also recognised that the theatres themselves would benefit from the variety of perspectives a mixed group would automatically present.