Who Was Involved
In 2016 Tonic’s Advance programme tasked nine leading performing arts companies from across England to proactively explore how they could achieve greater gender equality on their stages.
Advance’s 2014 pilot confirmed for us the value of having organisations of all different shapes and sizes in the room together. Across both cohorts we purposefully sought to bring on board a range of organisations which, between them, have a national reach, are a mixture of building-based and touring, and which hold distinct positions in the performing arts ecology. The organisations vary from tiny up to big national institutions. That’s because the pilot demonstrated how organisations of varying scales can – between them – affect change in different ways.
- Clean Break
- Mahogany Opera Group
- National Theatre
- New Wolsey Theatre
- Northern Ballet
- Northern Stage
- Royal Opera House
- Sadler’s Wells
Advance 2016 has been co-led by the Director of Tonic, Lucy Kerbel and Tonic’s Advance Associate Vicky Long, a freelance consultant and producer. Tonic was on hand to the participating organisations throughout. The biggest threat to the success of Advance was the extreme workload of all the organisations, and the danger that amidst the manifold time and capacity pressures already placed on them and their staff, Advance would get lost. Consequently, Tonic provided much of the legwork that enabled them to effectively conduct their research. This broke down into a host of activities that included:
- Accessing materials on the organisations’ behalf.
- Acquiring information that would fill specific gaps in their existing knowledge.
- Connecting the organisations with individuals and groups (inside and outside the performing arts industry) that could help them in their investigations.
- Facilitating sessions between various staff and departments within the organisations.
- Conducting qualitative research e.g. running focus groups and conducting interviews.
- Conducting quantitative research e.g. statistical analysis and data capturing.
- Offering provocation, advice and guidance.
- Being a sounding board.
In 2016 the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama’s research team continued their collaborative partnership with Tonic Theatre, building on the research established with Advance in 2014. With additional funding from Research@Central, Gilli Bush-Bailey (Professor of Women’s Performance Histories) and Dr Katharine Low (Lecturer in Community Performance and Applied Theatre) welcomed a new member to the team; Research Associate, Dr Lisa Woynarski.