Songs for the Struggling Artist

Ticking Boxes
April 2, 2014, 11:57 pm
Filed under: art, business, feminism, theatre | Tags: , ,

Over drinks, a presenter was talking about his disappointment over the quality of the work he’d just seen. “It’s a show that ticked all the boxes,” he said, and he proceeded to name all the elements it had going for it (its cultural specificity and diversity were some of those elements.)


I realized then that this is likely how a lot of shows get booked, not for their quality, necessarily but what boxes the shows tick for their presenters. And given that each of those boxes likely represents a funder or access to grants, it is a perfectly sensible way to do things.


I’m glad that these are considerations for people presenting work. It’s important that someone is encouraging work that is culturally relevant, diverse and/or regionally driven. What I’d like to see is the addition of at least one other box to tick, I would like to see everyone add “gender equity” to their box-ticking lists.


At the conference this presenter and I were drinking at, for example, the ratio of men to women on stage was still 2 to 1 and while we saw an all male production, we did not see an all female production. We almost never do. And it seems like only strident feminists like myself ever notice. I know change comes slowly. And ultimately, we want to see the highest quality work, no matter what – but as long as you’re ticking boxes, scoring things a little higher for cultural or racial diversity, for example, why not add the same for shows that balance out the gender inequity?


If funding is driving the box-ticking, i.e., if diversity foundations are helping increase racial diversity onstage, then we need a funder to do the same for women on stage. If I were a foundation, or had the money to start one, I’d set up a fund to reward theatres that presented a substantial amount of women’s work, featuring both women on stage and off. Then the whole chain would sit up and take notice. Add that box, that gender equity box, then find a way to tick it.


2 Comments so far
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I think that many people do not notice because they have grown accustomed to the difference. Once you start looking with the question of gender equity in mind, you can’t help but notice, even when you’d rather not.
I used to never notice how male dominated comedy shows and panel shows generally are. The presenters and hosts are almost invariably men, and when it comes to guests… they will have (maybe) one woman as a token, three or more other men. I am yet to see one where things are the other way around.

Comment by vicbriggs

So true. And there’s that study that came out recently that shows how if you just have a few women in a crowd, the crowd will be perceived as equal, even when it’s 4/5 male. Looking forward to the moment where we’d see things the other way around just once!

Comment by erainbowd

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