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The theatre: home of structural gender inequality

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Theatre, gender imbalance, Tonic Theatre, women writersIn the West End this week only one production in the main theatres written by a woman.

I suppose I like my theatre a bit radical and a bit edgy, I’ve always thought of it as a site for enormous social change messages – think Cradle Will Rock.

So I was a surprised at the findings of Tonic Theatre’s latest survey.

In the West End this week only one production in the main commercial theatres will have been written by a woman.

And it’s not just a London thing.

Of the 179 theatres and theatre companies that are funded by the Arts Council England, only 37 per cent of the artistic directors are women.

It seems like the more you look at the ‘big name’ writers, producers and directors the fewer women you find.

Tonic was founded in 2011 to address these issues.

Tonic Theatre began by thinking individually and strategically about how the theatre industry functions – the working methods, the decision-making processes and the organinsational structures.

The next step was thinking about how these processes might create barriers for women.

Once they identified the barriers they worked with top-level theatre partners to create solutions and to put these into practice.

Their latest programme “Advance” is a six-month programme funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation.

It works in conjunction with some of the biggest names in artistic direction to ensure that female talent gets to the top of their institutions.

Tonic’s director Lucy Kerbel, speaking in the Independent, said she was optimistic the programme “will lead to real and sustained change, not just within these theatres but because of their position in the industry, far more broadly”.

Look forward to seeing the results.

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