A Question of Equity - April 1990

Submitted by root on Mon, 08/07/2017 - 17:44

Women in the Arts


The fact that a third of managers were women also needs to be looked at in the context of the kinds of organisations they were managing. The organisations being surveyed ranged in size and scope from a two person theatre group, performing on an irregular basis, to the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra; they included colleges, local authority arts organisations and arts staff within local authorities.

If one considers the role of women in terms of the type of organisation/ project then it will be seen that women managers predominate within small to medium scale organisations, (turnover less than £150,000 and usually less than £50,000).

Once one looks at the management of large scale and powerful organisations (whether local authority, non local authority or educational) then the picture changes radically. Within powerful, large scale organisations which include both organisations with a turnover of over £250,000 and those local authorities where the arts officer may not themselves have direct control over large budgets but where they can be extremely influential in terms of what is supported in the arts and what is not.

26 such organisations filled in questionnaires and within these there were 7 women and 35 men in management positions. That is only 16% of managers were women.

If one simply considers large scale professional arts organisation (local authority and non local authority) then there were 17 managers of whom 2 (11%) were women.

In general it can be said that the larger, the more hierarchical, and the more powerful an organisation, the less chance there is of women occupying positions of power within it.

This finding is in line with national research. In the Cork Report (1986) Sir Kenneth Cork commented on the lack of women in senior management within the Arts Council and on the fact that only one Regional Arts Association was run by a woman. Caroline Gardiner in "The Employment of Women in the English Theatre", published in October 1987, found that women made up 34% of all artistic directors but controlled only 13% of the total funding (this reduced to 8% if one ignored the one woman director at the National Theatre).

Caroline Gardiner summarises the situation thus:-

"The research shows that for almost every level of appointment that might be expected to have a significant impact on theatre policy, where women hold such posts, they are disadvantaged financially, and therefore artistically, compared to men in the same jobs. In most posts, women are more likely than men with the same job title to be working with small companies with low levels of funding, with small scale touring companies without a permanent building base, or in theatres with small auditoria."