Summarized by Joan Lancourt
It’s wonderful when worries prove groundless. Twenty-five people showed up to the first StageSource Gender Parity Task Force meeting. We actually had to move the location from the conference room out into the light filled main space of the StageSource office.
We began by revisiting the current state of data collection. There are pieces of work going on across the country in the Bay Area, in Minneapolis, in LA, at TCG, in DC, internationally in Australia and the UK, and locally at HowlRound and the NE Play Alliance. Unfortunately, each of these efforts is collecting in slightly different ways. As we reviewed these projects, the need for shared definitions and methodologies so that data can be compared was striking. Even definitions of ‘season’ are not the same.
We will create a Google Hangout as a way to promote a shared national conversation related to these concerns. While good data is absolutely key to achieving our goals, there was also a shared sense that this task force is about taking actions that will move us toward our goal. We don’t need the last word in data in order to begin to make the case. We will start with what we have, and keep adding and refining as we go along.
Again, there was general consensus on the overall goal of 50/50 BY 2020, with the acknowledgement that we will need to refine this goal in the near future. Who is included in the 50/50? Is it playwrights? Playwrights and directors? What about actors? Set designers? Production people, etc.? What we’d like to end up with by the end of the summer is an answer to the question, “Where do we want to be in 2 years, what is our strategy for getting there, and what are the tactics that will move us steadily toward that desired outcome?”
The group then turned to review the 20 or so Action Suggestions (tactics) that had been generated at our Saturday Town Hall Meeting at Boston’s Playwrights Theater. In a predictably messy, highly participatory process, we explored the suggested actions, grouped, pruned, regrouped and then ranked them based on which ones people were willing to work on. Throughout the process, themes of empowerment and support were clear and the beginnings of a strategy emerged: we will meet with key decision-makers, work to educate and support their efforts, engage the boards and audiences, point out where more progress is needed, and help identify resources. Collaboration was clearly the preferred mode, but it was also clear that we will not take no for an answer.
The energy in the meeting kept growing and the process distilled the list of tactics into 6 categories: Data Collection; Reaching Decision Makers (Power Mapping, Roundtable, & Presentation to theater Boards); Seal of Approval (in Lobbies/Programs, 50/50 Award, support of existing work); Festivals (Women on Top, city wide, year long festival); Universities; and Workshops for Playwrights. Working groups were formed for each of the 6 categories. Their charters are to meet between now and August and come to the next all task force meeting in August with a plan and a time line for how to move forward on the specifics of their working group. A convener was selected for each group, and each group will meet during June and July.
Anyone interested in joining any of these groups should contact StageSource (email info@StageSource.org), and they will be put in touch with the convener. All are welcome. There can’t be too many of us working on this.