Examining other art forms with historic issues in hiring women: theater, symphonic/classical music, opera. Also including more contemporary fields: lack of women in country music, hip hop, contemporary pop music, and other genres.
By Mike Scutari
19 November 2020
Over the summer, Inside Philanthropy surveyed performing arts professionals about COVID-19’s impact on the sector’s fundraising fortunes. Their pessimistic outlook reminded me of an old quote by Stephen King: “There’s no harm in hoping for the best as long as you’re prepared for the worst.”
I realize it’s pretty macabre to cite the “master of horror” when talking about the state of performing arts fundraising, but these aren’t normal times, and if recent research from TRG Arts and arts data specialists at Purple Seven is any indication, respondents’ worst fears are now coming to pass.
The report found that in the first nine months of 2020, the number of gifts received by performing arts organizations in North America increased by 15%, but the average value of those gifts fell by 24% from the previous year. And while gifts from “super-active patrons”—defined as those who had donated to the organization and/or attended performances at least 10 times—were up 47%, total revenue and average gift size were down 38% and 8% for the nine-month period.
The report is all the more unsettling given the broader economic context. TRG Arts/Purple Seven found that aggregate gift revenue from June to September was down 29% compared to 2019. Yet that tried-and-true barometer of philanthropic giving, the S&P 500 Index, was up 8.4% from June to September 2020, and up 12.9% from September 2019 to September 2020.
“If donors don’t support arts organizations now, when stocks are doing well, they may not be around in the future when the market is uncertain,” said Suzanne Appel, managing director of New York’s Vineyard Theater.
With performing arts nonprofits facing what Julie Wake, executive director of the Arts Foundation of Cape Cod, calls a “long and dark winter,” the TRG Arts/Purple Seven report highlights two questions that will make fundraisers feel as if they just read “The Shining” in a darkened room: Why are donors dialing back giving when the market is enjoying a historic run, and what can they do to ensure their organizations can hang on for another 12 to 18 months?
Read the entire article here.
By Christina Dugan
11 November 2020
Throughout the years, Debbie Allen has found a way to turn rejection into strength.
In this week’s issue of PEOPLE, the Grey’s Anatomy actress and producer opens up about the years of tears, laughter and sweat that led her to where she is now.
“I grew up with a lot of ideas about myself,” says Allen, 70. “I always wanted to dance. I don’t remember ever not dancing. I used to sit as a little girl, contemplating the stars and the universe. And feeling myself. I used to do performances in the backyard to the birds in the trees. I had a sense that I was in a big world and that there was a place for me. I couldn’t articulate it as a child; I just knew the joy and the spirit of dance. It was inside of me. It was alive in me.”
Growing up in Houston, Texas, Allen — who found success on the movie and subsequent TV show Fame in the ’80s — experienced racism and hate, but remained determined to overcome the many challenges she faced.
Later, when she “went to the North Carolina School of the Arts to audition to go there for college,” Allen recalls, her dreams came to a sudden halt.
“I had been so well trained by that time by the Houston Ballet Foundation. I got there early, and I watched the auditions, I watched class. I was like, ‘Oh, I know all of this. I’ll be good.’ I got to my audition [group] and they used me to demonstrate,” says Allen.
Unfortunately, Allen says she was not accepted into the school because of her “body type.”
Read the full article here.
4 August 2020
As COVID-19 cases grow nationwide and permanent layoffs continue to rise, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to imagine the United States returning to “normalcy” anytime soon. Students may return to school in the fall. Restaurants and gyms may resume normal hours and dining services. But the arts, as we know them, are likely to be shut down for the foreseeable future.
The structure of the arts and cultural industry leaves working artists and performers particularly vulnerable during catastrophes. As of May 4, an ongoing survey conducted by Americans for the Arts showed that two thirds of artists are having trouble sourcing materials. It also appears virtually certain that arts venues will reopen later than other businesses because social distancing is difficult both for audiences and for performers. As one benchmark, Broadway theaters do not plan to reopen until at least January 2021, and music venues that have tried to reopen have run into pushback.
The upshot is that the vast majority of artists have likely lost some or all of their income, not to mention losing the institutions on which they depend to earn their living. And there is no clear path back to pre-pandemic levels of employment. To understand how artists are likely to fare during the pandemic, we looked at the U.S. Department of Labor’s Current Population Survey (CPS) and the 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. (For more details about how we analyzed the CPS, our Stata code can be found at GitHub.)
How Many Artists Are Out of Work?
We compared employment levels for artists and non-artists. We adopted the NEA’s definition of who counts as an artist (PDF). We also included librarians and archivists because libraries are included in the federal framework (PDF) for arts disaster relief. The various types of artists were grouped into three broader categories: performing artists (dancers, choreographers, actors, directors, musicians, singers, DJs, and other performers), non-performing artists (visual artists, photographers, designers, and writers), and others (architects, librarians, and archivists). We also analyzed food services and retail/wholesale, which are two of the most common alternative sources of income for artists.
Read the full article here.
By Dr. Stacy L. Smith, Marc Choueiti, Kevin Yao, Hannah Clark & Dr. Katherine Pieper
Annenberg Inclusion Initiative
Each year, we examine the gender and race/ethnicity of directors working across the 100 top fictional films theatrically released in the U.S. A total of 1,300 of the most popular movies were included in the analysis, from 2007 to 2019. Put differently, 1,448 directors were assessed across two inclusion metrics (e.g., gender, race/ethnicity). Given the recent conversation surrounding women directors in the press, we conducted 3 additional analyses: a slate analysis of director inclusion across all the movies distributed by 8 major companies from 2015-2019; a pipeline analysis of female directors in entertainment (e.g., Sundance Film Festival, episodic television, Netflix movies), and an examination of female directors’ award nominations across the last 13 years at 4 organizations (Golden Globes, Academy Awards, DGA, Critics’ Choice). Findings are presented below for each section of the report.
Key Findings: 1,300 Top Grossing Movies from 2007-2019
A total of 113 directors were attached across the 100 top movies of 2019. A full 89.4% (n=101) were male and 10.6% (n=12) were female. This calculates into a gender ratio of 8.4 males to every 1 female. Across 1,300 films and 1,448 helmers, only 4.8% of directors were women. Has the prevalence of female directors changed over time? Yes. 2019 had a significantly higher percentage (10.6%) and number of female directors than 2018 (4.5%, n=5) or 2007 (2.7%, n=3). Of the major studios, Universal Pictures had the most female directors attached to the films they distributed (15 women), followed by Warner Bros. (13 women) and Sony Pictures Entertainment (11 women). The company with the worst track record for distributing films helmed by female directors was Paramount Pictures, which had only 3 pictures out of 134 movies distributed from 2007-2019 directed by a woman. Critical reception of male- and female-directed films was assessed using Metacritic scores. The average Metacritc score for films with only male directors attached (Mean=54.2, Range=9-100) was virtually identical to those with a female director attached (Mean=55.8, Range=22-95). The medians across these two groups were also evaluated, and revealed no difference between male- and female-directed films. Despite receiving the same average critical review, female directors were given substantially less access and opportunity than male directors to helm these highly visible films.
Of the 113 directors of 2019, a full 83.2% were white (n=94) and 16.8% (n=19) were underrepresented. This is substantially below U.S. Census, which is 39.6%. The ratio of white directors to underrepresented directors is 4.9 to 1. Only 13.5% of all helmers across the 13-year sample were from an underrepresented racial/ethnic group. 2019 (16.8%) was not meaningfully different from 2018 (21.4%) for underrepresented directors nor was it Annenberg Inclusion Initiative — 2 significantly higher than 2007 (12.5%). 2019 was practically different only from 2008, 2010, 2011, and 2012. Of the major studios, Universal Pictures has the highest number of underrepresented directors attached to their distributed films (39 directors) followed by Sony Pictures Entertainment (34 directors) and 20th Century Fox (29 directors). Disney has the worst track record (10 directors) from 2007 to 2019. No differences in average Metacritic scores were observed between white (Mean=54.2, Range=9-100) and underrepresented directors (Mean=54.9, Range=11-99). Medians also did not differ, with both groups having the same Metacritic mid-point in the distribution of their movies (54).
Women of Color Directors
Only 13 women from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups have directed any of the 1,300 top movies from 2007 to 2019. This is less than 1% of all directing jobs (n=1,448) whereas white males held 82.5% of jobs, underrepresented males 12.6% of jobs, and white females 3.9% of jobs. The ratio of white male directors to underrepresented female directors was 92 to 1. Yet, this group of women represents 20% of the U.S. population. Only two underrepresented female directors – Ava DuVernay and Jennifer Yuh Nelson – have helmed more than one movie appearing across the 1,300 films and 13-year sample. Four of the women of color were added to the list in 2019 (i.e., Kasi Lemmons, Melina Matsoukas, Roxann Dawson, Tina Gordon). No company has distributed the stories of more than 4 underrepresented female directors across 13 years. The average Metacritic score was higher for stories directed by women of color (Mean=62.5, Range=44- 89) than those stories directed by white males (Mean=54.2, Range=9-100), white females (Mean=54.3, Range=22-95), or underrepresented males (Mean=54.3, Range=11-99). The medians in the distributions followed the same pattern. Clearly, there is a major disconnect between hiring practices in Hollywood and who has the cinematic heft to carry stories.
Read the full study here.
By Avie Schneider, Andrea Hsu, & Scott Horsley
2 October 2020
Here’s a stunning stat: Women are leaving the workforce at four times the rate as men.
The burden of parenting and running a household while also working a job during the pandemic has created a pressure cooker environment in many households, and women are bearing the brunt of it.
It has come to a head as a new school year starts with many children staying home instead of returning to their classrooms in person because of the pandemic. And its forcing many women to make a difficult choice and drop out of the workforce altogether.
Just in September, 865,000 women over 20 dropped out of the American workforce compared with 216,000 men in the same age group, the Labor Department reported Friday.
“It was a really startling difference,” said University of Michigan economist Betsey Stevenson. “The child care crisis is wreaking havoc on women’s employment.”
Youli Lee is one of those women who hit the breaking point of working from home while caring for her children. She took a leave of absence from her federal job after finding it impossible to do her normal work from home while her three children — ages 8, 11, and 13 — were also at home doing virtual school.
Listen to the coverage or read the full article here.
By Michael Cooper
23 September 2020
The Metropolitan Opera announced Wednesday that the still-untamed coronavirus pandemic has forced it to cancel its entire 2020-21 season, prolonging one of the gravest crises it has faced in its 137-year history and keeping it dark until next September.
The decision is likely to send ripples of concern through New York and the rest of the country, as Broadway theaters, symphony halls, rock venues, comedy clubs, dance spaces and other live arts institutions grapple with the question of when it will be safe again to perform indoors. Far from being a gilded outlier, the Met, the nation’s largest performing arts organization, may well prove to be a bellwether.
The outbreak has kept the 3,800-seat opera house closed since mid-March, sapping it of more than $150 million in revenue and leaving roughly 1,000 full-time employees, including its world-class orchestra and chorus, furloughed without pay since April. Now, with the virus still too much of a threat to allow for a reopening on New Year’s Eve, as hoped, Peter Gelb, the Met’s general manager, is making plans to adapt to a world transformed by the pandemic, including by trying to curb the company’s high labor costs.
“The future of the Met relies upon it being artistically as powerful as ever, if not more so,” Mr. Gelb said in an interview. “The artistic experiences have to be better than ever before to attract audiences back. Where we need to cut back is costs.”
As he canceled the current season, Mr. Gelb announced an ambitious lineup for 2021-22 to reassure donors and ticket buyers that the Met has robust plans. An even more difficult effort will play out offstage: Mr. Gelb said he would ask the company’s powerful unions to agree to cost-cutting concessions that he said would be necessary in the post-pandemic world, and which a number of other prominent performing arts organizations have begun to implement.
The Met plans to return to its stage next September with Terence Blanchard’s “Fire Shut Up in My Bones,” the first time it will mount an opera by a Black composer — a long-overdue milestone, and part of a new focus on contemporary works alongside the ornate productions of canonical pieces for which the company is famous. The Met will also experiment with earlier curtain times, shortening some operas and offering more family fare as it tries to lure back audiences.
Read the full NYT article here.
By Peter Marks
19 September 2020
On a frigid night in January 2003, I darted out of Signature Theatre in Arlington after a performance of the musical “110 in the Shade.” I’m often the first person out of the theater — a critic’s habit — but on this night, I spotted an older man rushing ahead of me toward a limo and a petite woman on the periphery of my vision, carefully negotiating an icy patch.
“Ruth,” the man called out, “move your ass!”
As it sunk in that this was the esteemed associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and her husband, Marty, I felt that special twinge of Washington privilege: to have witnessed a funny, unguarded moment in the life of a revered public servant. She became a real person to me in that instant, just someone who, like me, loved the theater and was now trying to beat the post-show crush, though not at quite the pace her companion was setting.
On countless nights to follow over the years, I would see Justice Ginsburg in the theaters of Washington, on the occasions critics were invited to Arena Stage and Signature Theatre and Shakespeare Theatre Company. She was the most faithful patron of the performing arts in the upper echelons of officialdom I have ever known. Often, she was seated in front of me or just across the aisle, and I had to resist the temptation to watch her instead of the production. Or to lean over and whisper: How do you have time to sit on the Supreme Court all day and schlep in the evening to see “West Side Story?”
The answer was obvious. She couldn’t stay away. That’s what passion for the arts does to a person.
Read the full article here.
By Lyndsey Winship
7 September 2020
When lockdown hit in March, it didn’t stop dancers dancing. The flood of online classes, short films and Instagram clips are testimony to that. But it did stop many of them earning. Outside the big ballet companies, most dancers and choreographers are freelance (81% according to One Dance UK). Some were eligible for financial support, others fell through the cracks. Ever creative, some have found new ways to make money, like Sam Coren, formerly of the Hofesh Shechter Company, who started fixing and building bikes. Or Daisy West, a dancer with Mark Bruce Company, who designs greetings cards on the side. But it turns out having a second job is nothing new to most dancers, in a competitive industry where contracts are often short and pay is poor. A 2015 survey by Dancers Pro found that more than 50% of dancers earned less than £5,000 a year from performing. The current ITC/Equity minimum fee for an independent production is £494 a week. “There’s always been a need for a side hustle,” says West.
The precariousness of the dancer’s life has come into sharp focus during lockdown, and many artists now want to see a change when we come out the other side. “The systemic injustices of the industry have been unveiled more than ever,” says dancer and Rolfing practitioner Hayley Matthews. “For too long there’s been a prescribed necessity for dancers to live precarious financial lives.” Lockdown has “exposed a lot that was really fragile and difficult about this industry”, says Rachel Elderkin, a dancer, writer and podcaster who also works front of house in the West End and has a sideline dressing as a Disney princess for kids’ parties. “Even though [as a dance artist] you’re the people who create work, the money goes to organisations and as a freelancer you have to apply for opportunities.” The funds don’t always trickle down.
Dancer, choreographer, writer and model Valerie Ebuwa was due to have her first solo project, Body Data, screened at the V&A in April, but coronavirus put paid to that. She released the film and accompanying talk online. Dancers are “always at the bottom of the pile”, she says in her talk on Instagram. “Why don’t dancers get paid as much as musicians, or any other [artists]?”
Read the full article online here.
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