Dance Equity: Extra Tough Times for Women Dancers in COVID

Northfield, IL | November 19, 2020 Dance Data Project® (DDP) today announces the social media campaign, Connecting the Dots – #YesThisIsAnArtsStory, designed to draw attention to the catastrophic effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on women in dance and the performing arts in general. The campaign will begin on Monday, Nov. 23 and run for three weeks, ending on Friday, Dec. 11.

Dancers Terez Dean Orr and Ben Warner perform Poetry of Being by Nicole Haskins. (Photo by Keith Sutter, courtesy of Smuin Contemporary Ballet)


“While NPR, and business publications such as the Wall Street Journal and Forbes have documented the asymmetric impact of the pandemic on women economically, we haven’t seen similar work by arts reporters, looking at the industry as a whole,” said DDP President and Founder Liza Yntema. “Our campaign is designed to ‘connect the dots’ between layoffs and furloughs at the lower tier of performing arts not for profits where women typically work, the already existing gender pay gap, and the crushing pressure women feel due to child and elder care duties resulting in what is being termed the ‘Shecession’.” 

DDP has released three rounds of its video interview series, Global Conversations and will release the fourth round in early 2021, with updates on the full roster to be announced soon. Rounds 1 through 3 of the Global Conversations series are currently available for streaming on Instagram TVYouTube, and the DDP website. DDP continues to update the 2020-2021 Season Status Updates resource, an online tool that provides an ongoing listing of COVID-era programming changes for both U.S. and international ballet companies. The DDP team also continues to collect and refine data on festival, venue, and company programming as well as company leadership (e.g., boards of directors and trustees, resident choreographers), with further reports pending until sufficient information can be reliably sourced and analyzed during the pandemic.

The campaign will run for three weeks on DDP’s Twitter feed, and will feature daily quotes, facts, and figures detailing the compounding issues that women in the arts face due to the pandemic. The Twitter campaign will also connect audiences to DDP’s website and #YesThisIsAnArtsStory blog, where articles and studies from March to the present will be reposted, including commentary and key points from DDP.

“We keep seeing emergency calls to ‘fund the arts’ but no one seems to be questioning whether it makes sense to prop up institutions that systematically deny women, especially women of color, leadership opportunities and relegate them to either part-time gig work, or the lowest paid jobs where they are most vulnerable – as a matter of fact, among the largest ten ballet companies in the US, the ones most likely to survive, only one has a female artistic director,” continued Yntema. 

In March 2020, DDP released its Artistic and Executive Leadership Report, an examination of the leaders’ salaries within the Top 50 U.S. ballet companies, which states that women earn 63 cents for every dollar earned by men.  

“DDP’s research revealed the persisting gender wage gap just as the pandemic was reaching a global scale, and it is undoubtedly widening due to COVID-19,” said Director of Research Isabelle Vail. “As the majority ($386 million, 61%) of the wealth is concentrated within the Top 10 ballet companies in the U.S., smaller, female-led companies and freelancers are facing colossal setbacks due to this enduring crisis.”

About DDP: Founded in 2015 as a simple database and launched officially in 2019 as 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Dance Data Project® ‘s mission is to inform equity in classical ballet through data analysis, advocacy, and programming. Learn more at www.dancedataproject.com.

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Author: Gender Equality Funding News

Philanthropy Women aggregates the most important gender equality funding news.

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