New Survey Reveals Impact Of Pandemic On Women In Theatre

Photo Credit: Kyle Head

A recent survey has found that more than 60% of women across all roles in UK theatre are considering leaving the industry due to the impact of COVID-19.

The Women in Theatre Survey, conducted this year by playwright Jennifer Tuckett in partnership with organisations such as The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain, Equity, Stage Directors UK and the December Group, is the first survey to examine the effects of the coronavirus pandemic specifically concerning UK women in theatre.

Out of the 387 women surveyed, 85% worry that gender inequality will worsen post-Covid. Furthermore, more than 98% claimed to have experienced obstacles in the past 19 months, and 74% said they had experienced a decrease in freelance work. Other challenges include an increase in domestic tasks, childcare, and unemployment.

Some of the most commonly cited reasons behind these challenges include discrimination against women over 40, women occupying more emerging and mid-stage jobs and a general worsening of existing gender inequality during the pandemic. 

Participants have also expressed concerns that in an attempt to bring back audiences, theatres will prioritise “safe” work by men, leading to a potential exodus of female talent. 

In response to the findings, Stella Kanu, executive director at the London International Festival of Theatre, said to The Guardian that “a talent drain of huge proportions that has sadly already begun.”

“Every woman and non-binary person I speak to is seriously examining the theatre industry environment and its impact on their workload, income, personal responsibilities, and potential future,” she added.

The survey creators have called on Arts Council England (ACE) and the government to introduce support funds and quotas to help women recover from the pandemic and to prevent increased gender inequality. 

Words by Katie Heyes

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