June 10, 2021 | Northfield, IL | Dance Data Project® (DDP) today released its third annual Artistic & Executive Leadership Report, doubling the scope of ballet companies surveyed to 100 and, for the first time, including compensation analysis for associate artistic directors and other highly paid individuals, in addition to previously surveyed artistic and executive directors.

DDP’s study demonstrates the persistence of a glaring gender-based pay and opportunity gap. For instance, just 30% of artistic directors at the largest 50 ballet companies in the United States are women, and they earn 73 cents on the dollar to their male counterparts. While improved from 62 cents in 2016 and 61 cents in 2018, based on data available, it is still well below the national average (women earn 82 cents for every dollar men make). By contrast, among the “Next 50” (51-100) ballet companies, DDP found that the gender balance of leaders is nearly equal—women hold 51% of artistic directorships.

In an inaugural review of the “pipeline” second-tier positions of associate and assistant artistic directors among the Largest 50 companies, DDP’s examination determined that 64% of positions are held by men. Conversely, DDP’s exploration of “Next 50,” DDP found that 58% of these positions are held by women. In total, DDP found 31 assistant and associate artistic director positions in the Largest 100—48% female vs. 52% male.

“We conclude that a consistent and remarkable gender gap exists within the Largest 50 U.S. ballet companies. Particularly as artistic directors, men are compensated significantly more and occupy more than twice as many positions as do women,” said DDP Research & Project Lead Michayla Kelly. “By contrast, the smaller companies, which together represent just a measly seven percent of the operating expenses commanded by the Largest 50, are more likely to have women artistic directors. And yet, they are, unfortunately, compensated far less than in the large companies. In our post-pandemic reality—especially with recent announcements that several key artistic directors are set to depart in 2022—audiences, foundations, and boards should reconsider their support or demand change.”

On the executive director front, DDP continues to find both a more equitable gender ratio and a much smaller pay gap, with 27 women executive directors in the Largest 50 and 27 among the “Next 50.” In the combined 100, there are 54 women executive directors and 36 men. However, the gender pay gap between male and female executive directors has actually grown from $0.10 to $0.15 (90% v. 85%) between 2016 and 2019.

DDP Founder & President Elizabeth “Liza” Yntema notes, “Reports indicate that dance has been the hardest hit of all performing arts as a result of the pandemic (as many as 55% of dancers lost all their income). And while ballet companies are running campaigns asking the public to ‘support their dancers,’ DDP’s inquiry suggests we need carefully examine whether these institutions are prioritizing their budgets to advance equity and care for their most at-risk employees.”

Stay tuned for additional first-time Dance Data Project® research this summer and look out for the next iteration of DDP’s Global Conversations series in the coming weeks. Round 5 will focus on Women Behind the Stage and feature interviews with a group of influential and dynamic leaders, who work behind the scenes in the dance and other performing arts.