Get our free email newsletter with just one click

Theatre companies pledge to close gender pay gap as data reveals imbalance

Large theatres are now required to publish their gender pay gap figures. Photo: Shutterstock Photo: Shutterstock
by -

Theatre’s largest employers have pledged to increase the number of women in technical roles in a bid to improve the gender pay gap, as it is revealed that three quarters of the biggest performing arts companies pay men more than women.

A historical male dominance in backstage and technical jobs has contributed to the imbalance, some organisations within the industry have claimed.

The Royal Shakespeare Company, Delfont Mackintosh, the National Theatre and the Royal Opera House are among the organisations with more than 250 employees that have been forced to reveal their gender pay gap under new government regulations.

In total, 44 companies working in the performing arts reported the difference between men and women’s salaries, with a median hourly pay gap of 7% in favour of male employees.

This means when comparing median hourly rates, women are paid 93p for every £1 paid to men.

The median pay difference of the total 10,015 firms that published their figures was 9.7%, meaning arts companies came out more favourably than the average.

The national median is 18.4%.

However, 75% of eligible arts companies said they paid men more, according to the median figures. These companies included any that said they did one of the following: performing arts, support activities to performing arts, artistic creation or operation of arts facilities.

The median is calculated by ranking all employees from highest to lowest paid, and taking the salary of the person in the middle. The median pay gap is the percentage difference between the middle-paid man and the middle-paid woman.

Nine performing arts organisations that receive regular funding from Arts Council England reported their data.

The Southbank Centre recorded one of the widest pay gaps in the performing arts, with men’s hourly salaries 18.3% higher than women’s.

The Royal Opera House’s median pay gap was 13.4%, the RSC’s 13.1% and Opera North’s 9.8%.

Companies with the smallest disparities included the National Theatre, which pays women 3% more than men, and English National Opera, which recorded a 1% gap in favour of female employees.

West End theatre operators Nimax and Delfont Mackintosh recorded median pay gaps of 14.9% and 13.9%, while Ambassador Theatre Group’s was 5.9%.

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Theatres Group has not reported its data.

Nimax, which is owned and run by Nica Burns, attributed the difference in gender balance to an under-representation of women in technical roles within its theatres, identifying a historical male dominance in this area.

“While in recent years more females have been recruited into technical roles, there remains much scope for improvement, which is expected to be gradual and over a longer time period,” it said.

Both the Royal Opera House and the Southbank also claimed this was an area that needed improvement.

The Southbank said recruiting more women to its production team was “the key to solving our gender pay gap” and that it would try harder to promote these roles to women, while the Opera House also said it was implementing measures to encourage female applicants for technical jobs.

These steps include an anonymous application process where shortlists are decided with names omitted, ensuring interview panels are gender-balanced and increasing support for women, parents and carers.

The reporting regulations also required public sector organisations to submit statistics. Arts Council England’s median pay gap was 2.6%, while the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport was 8.2%.

Key findings

  • Median pay gap at all eligible performing arts companies: 7%
  • Median pay gap at three largest West End operators (Nimax/ATG/Delfont Mackintosh): 11.4%
  • Median pay gap at eligible national portfolio organisations: 6.3%
  • Median pay gap at eligible opera companies: 10.5%
  • When it comes to bonuses at performing arts organisations that reported, 10.6% of women received them, and 11.1% of men
  • Three subsidised organisations paid bonuses, all three to both men and women (Royal Opera House/Sadler’s Wells/Southbank Centre)

Gender pay gap (%) – performing arts companies in full

The Academy of Contemporary Music, Surrey: 54
Live Nation (Music) UK: 31
Southbank Centre: 18.3
BBC Worldwide: 16.9
Glyndebourne: 16.3
Walt Disney Company: 15.8
Inspired Thinking Group: 15
Nimax Theatres: 14.9
Life Leisure Trust: 14.2
Welsh National Opera: 14
Delfont Mackintosh Theatres: 13.4
Royal Opera House Covent Garden: 13.4
Royal Shakespeare Company: 13.1
Cymni Urdd Gobaith Cymru: 12
Opera North: 9.8
Hertsmere Leisure: 8.5
S4E: 8.3
Scottish Opera: 7.2
Shakespeare Globe: 7
Hull Culture and Leisure: 6.8
Ambassador Theatre Group (Venues): 5.9
Drayton Manor Park: 5.5
Royal Albert Hall: 4.8
Newport Live: 4
Wigan Leisure And Culture Trust: 3.8
Falkirk Community Trust: 3.2
Leicester Curve: 3
The Roundhouse: 3
Wales Millennium Centre: 3
Celtic Leisure: 2.6
Culture NL: 2.6
South Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture: 1.5
Academy Music Group: 1
Sadler’s Wells: 0
English National Opera: -1
Royal Central School of Speech and Drama: -1.9
Lincs Inspire: -2.4
Vivacity Culture And Leisure: -2.8
The Royal National Theatre: -3
North Music Trust: -3.7
Rochdale Boroughwide Cultural Trust: -4.1
Bh Live: -4.8
Renfrewshire Leisure: -9.4
Fife Cultural Trust: -12.6

Minus figures denote pay gaps in favour of women.

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.