Welcome to Equity in Theatre

Open Letter to The Globe and Mail

Dear Mr. Nestruck,
We were pleased and excited to read your recent article announcing evalyn parry as the new Artistic Director of Buddies in Bad Times Theatre in Toronto. However, we were disappointed to see you identify only parry and Nina Lee Aquino as notable women in the Toronto theatre community, qualifying their achievements solely by their artistic leadership of a venued theatre company. While operating a venue can be a yardstick to measure achievement and influence, it should not be (and increasingly isn’t) the ultimate marker of impact or success. Many companies in Toronto are considered at the top of the industry despite not housing their own rehearsals and performances. We feel it necessary to acknowledge 
the great work being done by the likes of Jennifer Tarver at Necessary Angel, Marjorie Chan at Cahoots, Lynda Hill at Theatre Direct, Jacquie P.A. Thomas at Theatre Gargantua, Beatriz Pizano at Aluna Theatre and Kelly Thornton at Nightwood Theatre (not to mention the other fantastic women heading up large-scale, venued companies across the country, but that is a letter for another day). 
The expertise and talent of these women should be acknowledged, regardless of whether or not their companies operate a venue. And yet, while there are many incredible women doing outstanding work in our industry, there are many who still struggle to have their words produced, or have the chance to direct a show or program a season. We know that women make up most of the ticket-buying audience, and yet there is a major disconnect in our companies, with only 23% of the shows produced in the 2014/2015 season being written by women (PGC). And, to exacerbate things even further, women artists still earn between 12% and 26% less than men, as actors, writers, directors, and producers (EIT).
Your article brought up a topic that needs to keep being addressed. The theatre community has been working on this issue for more than 30 years and we continue to see the same discouraging numbers. It is because of the persistence of these discouraging numbers that the Equity in Theatre Initiative was formed, which in the first year of its operation has released a research study, held a Symposium in Toronto attended by over 100 people and created a website dedicated to women in Canadian theatre. There is more work to be done, but we are committed to it.
While it’s important to note industry imbalances, it’s high time to recognize and celebrate the work being done by women in this industry and to grow our community so that history stops repeating itself. For the sake of our industry, and indeed of our creativity, Thank you, Mr. Nestruck, for the opportunity to address this issue with you and the The Globe's readers.
The members of the Equity in Theatre Initiative
Artists Driving Holistic Organizational Change 
Associated Designers of Canada 
Canadian Actors’ Equity Association 
Cultural Pluralism in the Arts Movement Ontario 
Indigenous Performing Arts Alliance 
Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas (Canada) 
Pat the Dog Theatre Creation 
Playwright’s Guild of Canada 
Playwrights Theatre Centre 
Professional Association of Canadian Theatres