What We Did
“We are much more aware when we are making programming choices not to be led by our perhaps unconscious, underlying assumptions: that things are a certain way, have been a certain way, and that that is how they will be.”
Daniel Evans, Artistic Director
Our Starting Point
We scanned our past seasons and considered what the onstage gender balance has looked like in the past. The results were not so edifying. We looked at the gender balance of our audiences and discussed how we might better represent them on stage. This led us to focus in on the gender balance between male and female actors, both in terms of number and in terms of range and scope of role. Connecting with the other organisations engaged in Advance and sharing the challenges was invaluable.
The next stage was to create an Action Plan that covered a year’s programming and confirmed the necessary steps. This included:
- Agreeing an official and measurable pledge
- Establishing resources required
- Identifying potential barriers
- The need to raise more money for commissioning budget
What We Learnt
The Advance programme encouraged us to look at the division of male and female roles on stage and research proved that the balance needed to be redressed. We learned that although some acting companies included more female characters it didn’t necessarily mean that the roles were substantial or drove the narrative. We have also agreed that, in addition to actors on stage, we plan to examine the gender mix of our creative teams and the writers with whom we collaborate and commission.
Sheffield Theatres’ new pledge is:
“To employ an equal member of male and female actors throughout each season and ensure that female roles also have prominence and run against current stereotypes.”
As we plan Spring/Summer 2015 and beyond, the balance of gender, on stage and in the stories told, is now part of every programming conversation internally and externally. We are already pleased with the progress we’ve made as we’re about to announce our next season.