What We Did
“Undertaking the Advance programme with the cohort of other performing arts organisations has provided invaluable sharing, relationship building and acted as a vital sounding board in the development of tools and practices towards a step change, leading to increased gender equality. What struck me from the Advance Away Days, was the clear acknowledgement of this issue within the sector and the collective commitment to implement new practices, despite working and time pressures, to help instigate change.
We have experienced first-hand, through our work to increase the representation of D/deaf and disabled individuals, that true sectoral change takes time, but can begin to be achieved if kept conscious in the minds of organisational decision makers. I hope to see, as a result of this programme, a sustained and increased representation of women across all roles within the sector, to the point where in the longer term, these conversations and initiatives will no longer be needed!”
Lorna Owen, Human Resources and Administration Manager
Whilst the statistics of our core workforce display a fairly even gender split (52% male / 48% female), evidence from our gender tracker highlighted a clear underrepresentation of women within NWT’s casts and creative teams, as you can see from our statistics.
What We Learned
As part of the Advance programme, Tonic Theatre conducted workshops and interviews with our staff, wider conversation and interviews, reading and research online, and gathered academic input to assist in informing our actions going forward. Areas highlighted within Tonic’s research as to why there may be a gender imbalance included role models, unconscious bias and the way in which creative decisions are made, in relation to both our creative teams and the work put on the stage.
What We’re Doing in Response to What We Learned
As a result of Tonic’s findings, NWT has developed an action plan which aims to increase awareness across the whole organisation of questions of gender in ways that will enable incremental and sustainable (ie permanent) change.
Rather than attempting to reach a designated target, instead the aim will be a constant vigilance about what the NWT is ‘saying’ about gender via the numbers of women it employs (and in which roles), and in the way gender is represented on our stages. Those responsible for NWT’s programming and creating of produced work now fill out a ‘gender representation analysis’ as part of the programming process – a questionnaire attached to a database allowing comparison of the representation of women in shows not only in terms of numbers participating in creative roles, but also how women are represented on stage. Using this tool, NWT plans to increase the female narratives and perspectives within the stories told on our stages.
In addition, we are also aiming to increase women within the creative teams and casts for NWT productions, benchmarked against baseline figures from the gender tracker. The gender tracker will be maintained and, as improvement is seen, the new figures will be taken as the new baseline, against which future success will be measured. This we hope will enable continuous shift, and prevent a slow-down once some change has occurred. Alongside this, NWT will also provide unconscious bias training to all staff in order to help promote more informed decision making.