This report was commissioned in July 2011 by the Australia Council for the Arts commissioned to bring the research on the issue of women in creative leadership in Australia up to the present day, and provide a basis for the sector to discuss these issues and to reach agreement on some strategies to address the situation.
It gathers together quantitative and qualitative information on the continuing gender disparities, and attempts to identify structural barriers and potential levers for addressing entrenched inequalities. After concerted policy and strategy interventions in the 1980s through to the mid-1990s, the issue of gender equality in creative leadership in the theatre sector largely fell off the policy agenda until December 2009, when a media storm erupted and created momentum for change in the form of new networks, events and debates.
Quantitative analysis of data held by Ausstage is presented for the Major Performing Arts Companies and for the Theatre Board Key Organisations (Multi-year). There is significant variability in the representation of women as playwrights/writers and as directors from year to year, with a pattern of ‘good years’ and ‘bad years’ for women. In the MPA companies only 30%-40% of productions have a woman in a creative leadership role, with this proportion dipping below 30% in both 2008 and 2010.
The picture for the Theatre Key Organisations is rather better, with a significantly higher representation of women in the key creative roles of writer/playwright and director, though by no means gender-neutral. While 52% of productions have at least one woman in a creative leadership role, a female writer is somewhat more likely to be working with a woman as director than a man.