Get our free email newsletter with just one click

Male chiefs dominate biggest arts companies, research claims

Large theatres are now required to publish their gender pay gap figures. Photo: Shutterstock As NPO size increases, so does the percentage of men in senior roles. Photo: Shutterstock
by -

Women are least represented in top roles among the biggest arts organisations, with male dominance increasing in line with company size, new analysis has revealed.

The gender gap between male and female employees in artistic director, chief executive and chair roles at Arts Council England national portfolio organisations widens as annual income increases, meaning the largest companies have the fewest female leaders.

The fresh data analysis by Arts Professional is based on statistics released earlier this year in an Arts Council report covering 2016/17. The report showed that women make up the majority of the NPO workforce, while still being under-represented in leadership roles.

BAME and disabled staff still ‘significantly underrepresented’ in theatre – Arts Council report

At NPOs with an annual income of less than £250,000, more women than men were in chief executive and artistic director positions: 48% of organisations had a female artistic director compared with 41% led by a man, while 54% had a female chief executive and 36% had a man in the same role.

Men outnumbered women in chair roles – 52% to 43% – meaning that at this level the gap between male and female in any of the three top roles does not exceed 10 percentage points.

However, as NPO size increases, so does the percentage of men in senior roles. At organisations with an income of more than £750,000, women made up just 31% of artistic directors, compared with 54% having male artistic directors. And 42% of organisations had a female chief executive, compared with 52% that are male-led. The biggest gap is for chairs – just 29% of these NPOs had a female chair, while 66% had a man in the same role.

These percentages exclude those who did not complete reporting forms or preferred not to state their gender.

In the Arts Council’s original report, published in January, the funding body identified leadership as an area that needs particular attention regarding all areas of diversity, including gender, ethnicity and disability.

We need your help…

When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.

The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.

We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.

Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.