The Young Vic theatre

The Young Vic theatre, designed by Howarth Tompkins Architects. Photo: Philip Vile.

Founded in

1971

Artistic Director

David Lan

Since 2000

Young Vic logo

Profile

Our shows
We present the widest variety of classics, new plays, forgotten works and music theatre. We tour and co-produce extensively within the UK and internationally.

Our artists
Our shows are created by some of the world’s great theatre people alongside the most adventurous of the younger generation. This fusion makes the Young Vic one of the most exciting theatres in the world.

Our audience
…is famously the youngest and most diverse in London. We encourage those who don’t think theatre is ‘for them’ to make it part of their lives. We give 10% of our tickets to schools and neighbours irrespective of box office demand, and keep prices low.

Our partners near at hand
Each year we engage with 10,000 local people – individuals and groups of all kinds including schools and colleges – by exploring theatre on and off stage. From time to time we invite our neighbours to appear on our stage alongside professionals.

Our partners further away
By co-producing with leading theatre, opera, and dance companies from London and around the world we create shows neither partner could achieve alone.

+ www.youngvic.org

Company type: building based

Company Type

Building based

We perform in our own theatre and tour work. We have 3 auditoria:
Main house: 420 seats
The Maria: 160 seats
The Clare: 70 seats

Public funding graph

Public Funding

£1,790,250

Arts Council England subsidy for the 2013/14 financial year.

Location: Waterloo, London

Location

Waterloo, London

Productions

12

Opened in 2013/2014

Staff

Core staff

Our Question

To what extent do women on the Young Vic’s director and producer networks view themselves as leaders, now or in the future? How could the Young Vic support them to develop their own models of leadership?

Through our interaction with emerging directors we’ve observed a difference in confidence levels, resilience and self-belief in male and female emerging directors. We’ve begun to explore practical sessions that address this potential difference and wanted to take our enquiries further.

What We Did

Why this Question?

We are aware that there was a rise in the number of directors and producers who were forming their own companies – partly out of choice and partly out of necessity. Consequently we are interested in exploring what new models of leadership may already exist. Examples including joint artistic directorships and collectives. Also, what alternative modes of leadership are being used successfully. For example quiet or collaborative leadership. We would like to understand what practical adjustments have been put in place to enable these new successful female leaders, such as part time flexible working led by a task based approach. We were also interested in how visible these alternative models are.

We have been looking at leadership within the context of running an organisation (role of artistic director, executive producer) but also leading a project, production, rehearsal room (role of director and show producer).

Investigation

In collaboration with Tonic we created a questionnaire that went to the directors and producers networks (both men and women). We asked quite broad questions about how they perceive leadership; such as what does leadership mean to them, do they see themselves as leaders, whether they see themselves running a theatre company in the future, the reasons they set up their own companies, the skills they felt they possessed, lacked or needed to develop to lead a company, and the barriers they perceive might prevent them from becoming a leader. Tonic also led a number of focus groups (with both men and women). Associate Artistic Director Sue Emmas spoke with a number of artistic leaders including Royal Court Artistic Director Vicky Featherstone, Sue Hoyle from Clore Leadership Programme, Laura Collier ,Head of the National Theatre Studio and groups of younger practitioners (both directors and producers of both genders).

What We Learned

Through the research it was evident that a high proportion of female emerging directors and producers were interested in taking on a leadership role at some point in their future. However those who aspired for this later in their career felt that the likelihood of achieving this was limited by ingrained gender prejudice (in some instances compounded by class or ethnic prejudice). They also identified a lack of skills in areas including: finance, people management, fundraising, programming and shaping artistic vision.

Our identification of the difference between the confidence levels, resilience and self-belief in male and female emerging directors was confirmed by the male and female responses to the questionnaire, and within focus groups.

It also became clear to us that as well as external ie institutional and cultural barriers to women taking on leadership roles there are also internal barriers to do with self confidence and attitude that also need to be addressed.

We also became interested in the cross over of the linked but different skills of running an organisation and leading a rehearsal room or production. The challenges of leadership potential was not just about being the head of a large organisation but also being given the responsibility to lead artistically on large projects with matching resources and budgets.

However, we also found many examples of successful and strong female leaders beating out their own path and moving away from more traditional ideas of leadership. It was evident that a generation of women have been doing this in the last 20 or so years.

What was lacking was visibility of these women. The media remarks on how few female leaders there are rather than highlighting those strong examples that exist. Many of the emerging directors and producers were not aware of existing role models that challenge the prevalent ideas of leadership.

Equally they felt that there was little appetite among theatres to challenge or change the working practices of making theatre and leading organisations. Also that the prevalent definition and practice of leadership would not enable them to realise the work they want to make or suit their world view.

“We want to encourage the emerging generation of female producers and directors to think positively about how they can influence infrastructures and working environments to realize their values and strengths.”
SUE EMMAS, ASSOCIATE ARTISTIC DIRECTOR

What We’re Doing in Response to What We Learned

  • Organise mentoring opportunities
  • Establish peer to peer network
  • Organise discussions and practical sessions that will focus on:
    • Recognising and learning from those experienced female leaders who have found strategies and led the way in terms of new leadership styles and models.
    • Taking the confidence as a leader in a rehearsal room and transferring this to leading meetings, negotiating terms, and expressing ideas.
    • Exploring internal barriers e.g. resilience and confidence building. Sharing practical examples of different approaches to working such as flexible rehearsal patterns, investing in crèche facilities, including child care in budgets/fees.

Is This Work a Step Towards a Bigger Goal?

Yes, we want to encourage the emerging generation of female producers and directors to think positively about how they can influence infrastructures and working environments to realise their values and strengths. This includes challenging and changing existing work cultures in theatres and rehearsal rooms.

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