On Saturday, StageSource hosted the Defining Gender Parity Town Hall at Boston Playwrights’ Theatre. For twitter, we used the hashtag #ParityBOS. And happily, Howlround was there to livestream and archive it.
And Ilana Brownstein, who was instrumental in helping me shape the event, storified the Twitter feed.
I am including my opening remarks below. If you are interested in joining the newly created but as yet unnamed Task Force, please email me at jhennrikus @ stagesource.org.
Much more to come,
Introductory remarks April 26, 2014
Welcome to the Defining Gender Parity Town Hall. I am Julie Hennrikus, the executive director of StageSource. I am glad that you are all here, and grateful that Howlround is livestreaming this conversation.
I am going to give you a sense of the day, and what some of the goals are. But first, some thoughts.
At StageSource we’ve been having conversations about diversity and inclusion for years, most recently releasing a report last winter. As ED of StageSource, I’ve had conversations, been on panels, been interviewed and done a lot of thinking about this topic. Just this past week I was in Chicago, and participated in a workshop on diversity and inclusion. All of this leads me to the reasons having this town hall, on this day, in Boston, is critical.
First, equity issues abound in theater. Which is ironic given the power of the medium, the rise of the non-profit sector over the past fifty years, and the flourishing theater community here in Boston.
Second, equity matters in theater. We all know that. But it doesn’t exist. Ilana Brownstein will share some numbers that bear that out. That gender parity does not exist in our theater community is not up for debate. Let’s start the conversation there.
Gender parity should be the easy inequity to adjust. There is not a lack of women in theater. Just a lack of opportunity. 50/50. The math isn’t even hard. But our numbers don’t add up.
Third, we tackle equity issues in fits and starts. Some seasons are better than others. Some companies have a burst of gender parity, then slip the next season. I am not suggesting we have quotas. But I am suggesting we have accountability. One idea that I took from the workshop this week was that if we don’t change the system, any changes don’t stick. We slide back to the “status quo”. We can do better than that. We have to. So let’s redefine the status quo.
Fourth, the work, the actions, need to be community based. An individual, all of you, can be part of the change. You have to. Part of today is figuring that out, starting to measure, to benchmark, to count. Deciding our roles, and stepping in to take it on.
And lastly, we can’t let up. Today, this day, we are committing to creating change. To redefining the norm to look more like the real world.
So, on to housekeeping. Here is what today looks like. Ilana Brownstein is going to introduce herself, and give us some statistics we can use to move the conversation forward.
Next up, we will call up the people who have come to testify. We are going to hold people to two minutes each.
Then we will all have a conversation in reaction to that testimony. We need to give the conversations space to breath, and to be. We won’t have enough time, I know that already. And part of today will be figuring out how to continue the conversations.
The last part of the day will be deciding on action steps, and getting a team in place to move them forward.
Thank you all for being here. Now, let’s start defining gender parity in our community.