2016 Athena Project Survey Results

Overall the Athena Project survey findings for the production of female playwrights across the Rocky Mountain Region falls in line with the findings of other studies. Women account for roughly 25% of the playwrights produced both nationally and within the Rocky Mountain Region. It is important to note that this number is significantly less for female playwrights of color.

In regards to leadership positions within the Rocky Mountain Region, the Athena Project survey suggests that women hold a relatively high percentage of leadership positions. This is in stark contrast to the Erkut and Ceder study (2015) that looked at the role of females in leadership positions within LORT theatres across the US. The reason for this discrepancy may be that the Athena Project survey took into account much smaller theatres that do not necessarily adhere to LORT and Equity in hiring processes. Therefore, while the numbers for women in leadership positions appears to be higher than other areas, this does not necessarily mean that women in these positions are being compensated at market value for the work that they are doing. In a future iteration of this survey Athena Project may consider, in more detail, the salary range attached to leadership positions. This would provide a better sense of not only the roles that women play in theatres across the region, but how they are compensated.

Significant to the Athena Project survey findings is that people of color, and women of color in particular, are drastically underrepresented in both playwriting and positions of leadership.

This is also true for the findings of other studies. According to the census bureau within the Rocky Mountain Region, 37% of the population identifies as a person of color. It is clear from this data that people of color make up a significant portion of the population in the Rocky Mountain Region. This is not, however, proportionately reflected in the production of plays by people of color or in the hiring of people of color to lead artistic communities. The Athena Project survey suggests that roughly 15% of playwrights and people in artistic leadership positions are people of color. It is therefore important that we find ways to embrace, encourage, and empower the voices and talents of people of color, specifically women of color, within the Rocky Mountain Region.

A note on the numbers: In this iteration of the survey Athena Project did not account for unique playwrights or directors. This means that if three different theatres produced Topdog/Underdog by Suzan Lori Parks then each production was counted as a production by a female playwright of color. Furthermore, if a company reported that they had three female directors during the season we counted three female directors, even if one of the directors directed twice or event all three times. The reason for this is that in this survey Athena Project did not collect data on specific plays being produced or who, specifically, was directing. Further iterations of the survey may include a more detailed accumulation of data. For now, it is significant to note that because of our counting method – by not looking at unique productions and directors – the numbers may be larger than they actually are.

Click here to view the survey