New women in theatre report to be a game-changer?

26 Apr 2012

The Australia Council is calling for feedback on its latest report


What we need to ensure now is that this report is not an end into itself, but instead, a point of no return in improving the prospects for women creatives in Australian theatre.


A report released this week by the Australia Council gives a detailed picture of the representation of women in creative leadership positions in the theatre industry, from the early eighties up to the present day.

According to the accompanying media release, the situation has "deteriorated" over the past decade, in contrast to improvements seen in the two decades previously as a result of strategic intervention.

The report was a key recommendation of the Women Director’s Forum in 2010. It draws on data compiled from the last 30 years and interviews with over 40 key industry figures.

“The report confirms what we know instinctively—that there’s no ’silver bullet’ solution," says Theatre Board Chair Stephen Armstrong.

"People commonly talk of gender quotas, but this has been shown to be ineffective.” 

The Australia Council has launched an online survey to gather responses to the report, the issues it raises and the three proposed strategies it puts forward.

Members of the theatre sector are encouraged to read the report and contribute their thoughts.

The issue of gender equality in theatre has come to the fore in the two years, sparked by a noticeably low number of women in creative roles in main stage seasons in 2010.

A Women Playwrights Solutions Roundtable, jointly supported by the Australia Council’s Theatre and Major Performing Arts Boards, took place in Sydney in August 2011. You can find out more about the outcomes of that event here.

For a collection of links and articles around the issue, visit our previous post, "The gender agenda."

Also of interest, the Australia Council has started a Storify page to collate discussion around the issue since the report was released on Tuesday. There’s also been some media coverage this week:

"Australia Council finds women are bit players in theatre's 'feudal system"

by Wendy Frew, Sydney Morning Herald, 24 April 2012

"Theatre fails to cast leading ladies"

by Wendy Frew and Gina McColl, The Age, 24 April 2012

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