At the 2018 Edinburgh Fringe we commissioned
the world-first statistical study
into gender in Fringe-level theatre.
“The Power Play research suggests that the unconscious biases and gaps between perception and reality around gender equality may well be already operating on the fringe and manifest themselves in the pay gap”
Our findings add to a wider picture of the cultural and structural practices that both limit access to theatre in the widest sense and prevent women from being rewarded for their work and talent on a par with men.
Since women are underrepresented at the top of the theatre industry, finding that this emerging field is gender-equal - and dominated by women in the theatre category - proves that there is a leak in the pipeline between the Fringe’s pool of emerging talent and top-level theatre. The impact of this is already being felt at the Fringe, where we can already discern a pattern of women’s work being undervalued and under-rewarded. This is apparent from the Fringe’s sizeable gender pay gap.
Beyond the question of gender, this study chimes with research into about pay conditions in the theatre industry - notably in the 2017 Workforce Review. The level at which all creatives are underpaid at the Fringe is deeply concerning; as a significant barrier for access to this platform, and by creating a knock-on impact on work culture and practices.
Further research needs to be conducted into this issue, and how it interacts with intersectional barriers including race and ability. Power Play will return in 2019 to widen the scope of our research.
IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN HELPING WITH THIS RESEARCH, PLEASE GET IN TOUCH.
WE WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU.
Director, Tonic Theatre
"Power Play’s research is timely. While extensive work is underway across many parts of theatre to address age-old gender imbalances, fringe festivals – of which the Edinburgh Fringe is the preeminent – have too often gone unseen and unconsidered within this. Power Play’s research is a useful reminder to all of us that fringe must be part of our thinking. By bringing the startling gender disparities that characterise the Edinburgh Fringe out from behind the curtain, Power Play’s research paves the way for some far more joined-up and transparent conversations about the interplay between economics and opportunity. These conversations will be a vital leaping off point from which positive and tangible change can happen.”
“Power Play's brilliant research of The Edinburgh Fringe Festival 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 it's clear this equality is only possible if women get paid less or not at all. Worrying too is the under representation of women in comedy and music. Significantly their findings reveal that men employ men and women employ women so if we want to drive equality elsewhere in theatre this is a very strong case for ensuring that we have 5050 gender representation at AD level.”
CEO, The Fringe Society
“We are proud to have worked closely with Power Play on this important piece of research. Whilst it is heartening that equal numbers of women and men are now taking part, the Fringe – and the arts sector as a whole – needs to do more to identify barriers to progression for women, and to play its part in discovering, commissioning and funding work by female creative talent. As a non-funded, open access festival, the Fringe is a vital springboard for artists of all backgrounds; we at the Fringe Society are committed to ensuring that the opportunities it provides are available to everyone.”
They said about our study: