Men working at last year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe earned an average of 60% more than women, according to new research.
The gender pay gap for fringe workers both on and off stage amounted to £195 across the duration of the festival, figures suggest, with average earnings of £523 for men and £326 for women.
The report has been produced by Power Play, which describes itself as an activist theatre project. It said the findings contribute to wider structural problems in the industry where women’s work is “undervalued and under-rewarded”.
Power Play collected data from 145 respondents covering 1,483 individual workers at the fringe.
As previously revealed, in 2018 the median income across all genders for roughly six weeks of work was £400, with 38% of practitioners being unpaid.
The latest study looks at the pay difference the same year between male and female workers in both on and offstage roles across all genres, including theatre and comedy.
It claims that in theatre, women made up 60% of all workers, men accounted for 38% and non-binary workers made up 2%.
The report goes on to claim that this female dominance demonstrates “a leak in the pipeline between the fringe’s pool of emerging talent and top-level theatre”, where women are less represented.
The report suggests several factors, including venue location, affected pay levels.
If an actor was part of a show at one of the festival’s six biggest venues – including Pleasance, Summerhall and Underbelly – £527 was added to their pay cheque.
Other factors included pay – an average of £48 was added to a worker’s pay cheque with every additional pound on the ticket price – and cast size. The wage for everyone in the company decreased by £38 per each extra person.
Other findings included:
Power Play’s report concludes: “These findings add to a wider picture of the structural practices that both limit access to theatre and prevent women from being rewarded for their work and talent on a par with men.
“These systemic problems, visible across the theatre industry, are already discernible at the fringe: where we already see the pattern of women’s work being undervalued and under-rewarded.”
Polly Kemp, co-founder of campaign group Equal Representation for Actresses, said: “Power Play’s brilliant research of the Edinburgh Fringe is very encouraging in terms of overall gender equality, with women being represented at levels not seen elsewhere in our industry.
“However, their findings on the disparity of pay between the genders means that the economic costs of doing the fringe disproportionately discriminates against women, making it extremely difficult to sustain their work beyond Edinburgh.
“As is seen in other areas of our industry, at point of entry we see equality of representation, but dig a bit deeper and it’s clear this equality is only possible if women get paid less or not at all.”