I’ve got a lot to think about this year. The company I started not long after leaving drama school is going to be 20 years old (I had her very young) and we’ve been assessing our impact, how we work, what we have stood for and want to stand for. In looking at all this, I’m struck by what’s the same, what’s got worse and what’s got better.
Same old same old is the levels of sexism in the arts industry; I started SLG after having a Me Too 3 years of drama school and I still have women coming to work with us, and some men, telling me what a sanctuary it is to work in a company that is trying to work laterally with their creative teams rather than hierarchically, where ideas are given space and support and difference is valued, and where no one touches you up as part of your job.
A recent BBC survey drawing attention to the low pay of performers generally, and the subsequent stress this places them under, found that: “82% of women earn less than £10,000 per year, compared with 69% of men, while 63% of women have a second job outside entertainment to help support themselves, compared with 57% of men” In the worse column, another survey revealed “more than 60% of women across all roles in UK theatre are considering leaving the industry, with 85% worried that gender inequality will worsen post-Covid”.
So we know our work as a feminist arts company is needed! And we know, and here’s the better part, we are seeing more and more talented young artists coming into the industry who are prepared to name these demons, challenge them and fight for the roles and respect they deserve, and they have the gifts and the gumption to do it!
And all this has made me realise that as part of our birthday we’ll be celebrating in these key ways:
-As part of our Mayven festivals we are making this year with Hall for Cornwall (and more exciting partners soon to be revealed!) we’ll not just be sending the lift down, but along, to the side, up and around to programme as many of the amazing women we’ve worked with or come across or loved and admired over the years. We want to share new and emerging work and the work of seasoned heroines alongside some of the best of our shows from over the years. If there’s anything of ours you’d like to see again or someone you think we should be showcasing please let us know!
-We’ll be bigging up the joie de vivre and creating spaces where we can come together for fun, wit, passion, anarchy and unconditional love (I’ve got some theories about the importance of unconditional love in creative spaces, especially for women, I’ll write more of this in a later blog…)!
-We’ll keep pushing for change! ‘Cos the work and the women and the wonderful people of earth are worth it, and we want to play and party with you all in this our 20th year!