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I suppose they're trying, but it rather misses the point

(18 Posts)
OhNoItIsntOhYesItIs Fri 30-Jun-17 13:00:06

London’s King’s Head extends flat-rate pay to creative teams

Text of the article from 'The Stage' :

London’s King’s Head has become what is believed to be the first unfunded pub theatre to commit to a fair pay agreement for creatives.
The fringe venue has also introduced a radical new gender policy, which pledges that half of creatives hired will be those who identify as non-male. [my emphasis]
In 2015, the pub theatre committed to paying actors a flat rate of £275 a week. Under a new agreement drawn up with Equity, the same rate will now be extended to directors, designers and all offstage workers.
Artistic director Adam Spreadbury-Maher said: “This isn’t a policy, it is a culture change.
“It is possible to have a sustainable fringe theatre. We still get no money from the bar, we still have 110 seats, but we looked at our business model and said, 'How can we run our business so we can pay actors and creatives?'
“If a director is working on a main show, we will pay for every week they work. This may include a week of casting and a week of preparation.”
Spreadbury-Maher added that it was “incredible” for a fringe theatre to be able to make such a commitment.
He said: “We’ve always tried to do something like this but we have never formalised it before. We are coming out and saying, 'We commit to this.'
“We are the first fringe theatre to do this, and it is a natural progression. The audience cares about this, and it is another reason to turn to them and say: 'Keep buying tickets.'”
An Equity spokesperson said: “We are delighted to have reached a comprehensive agreement for our creative team members working at the King's Head Theatre, and welcome the announcement of their renewed commitment to equalities.
“The King's Head Theatre has been leading the way on ethical fringe pay for years, so it’s fitting that they are the first theatre to sign up to a creative team agreement.”
The venue has also drawn up plans to ensure greater diversity within its staff, aiming to fill 10% of its artist and creative roles with people from non-white British backgrounds, an equal proportion with people with disabilities, and 65% of its roles with young people aged under 35 by 2021.
The King’s Head has also committed to having a 50% non-male board. This is alongside the new gender policy, again believed to be a first among fringe theatres, which commits to hiring 50% non-male creatives.
Spreadbury-Maher said: “This covers everything from lighting directors and sound designers to stage management.
“There is a lot of dialogue going round saying the situation is ‘so bad’ and there is a lot of finger-pointing going on, but we can lament the situation or we can do something about it.
“While being a smaller theatre, the King’s Head has an opportunity to make a difference.”
He added: “If you say ‘I’m not going to do it because the talent is not there’, then that is really lazy.
“Creatives are where the problem is. Even in our own house, it’s not as bad as it could be, but there is room for improvement.
“It’s not a chicken-and-egg situation; if you tell the industry we want more female sound designers, that will help, but if you are female the industry tells you to be a set designer or costume designer.”
Alongside these new policies for pay and gender equality, the King’s Head has also pledged to dedicate 50 hours per year to help mentor emerging companies about ethical employment.

I am a woman working in the industry. All of what he's saying is of good intention, I guess, but the phrase 'identifies as non-male' says to me that they think male is the norm, the default, and that everyone else must specifically identify themselves as different to male.

thatstoast Fri 30-Jun-17 13:05:22

Maybe they could commit to 50% non-females instead?

AssassinatedBeauty Fri 30-Jun-17 13:16:52

"Non-male" is such an incredibly horrid phrase and imo demonstrates their unconscious bias towards male being the default/norm. I'd like to ask them if they have any targets for those who are women. If anyone asked me if I identify as "non-male" the answer would be no. I don't identify as any gender, but I am a woman.

SpaghettiAndMeatballs Fri 30-Jun-17 13:27:25


<explodes in a puff of feminist frustration/>

user1490142285 Fri 30-Jun-17 13:37:59

Yes, bleurgh. I suspect this is to join in with 'identify as' trendy-speak which implies that everyone is trans/non-binary/genderqueer etc. The boring old problems of not enough women on the board, or women and low pay are just tedious and unsolvable so let's adopt 'a radical new gender policy' yawn.
I think it's good that we're getting closer to addressing gender binary issues (there are a lot of ways to dismantle the patriarchy) but there is a lot of ignorant trendy-speak and self-congratulations to get through before the real work is done. I think a lot of progress starts this way though.

user1490142285 Fri 30-Jun-17 13:42:40

As always I am torn between thinking this is inclusive and actually, that it may just be an expression of how we are finding new ways to exclude women. Like, are we finding new way to include everyone (genderqueer, trans, non-binary etc) except plain old women who identify as women? For clarity, I am pro-inclusivity, but not if we're working toward the exclusion of women.

AssassinatedBeauty Fri 30-Jun-17 13:48:17

It never seems to be the case that organisations are working towards 50% women on the board (or whatever), and then including "non-binary" people in the other 50%, resulting in having less than 50% of people who are male. The idea that you could have less than 50% men never seems to be an option!

VestalVirgin Fri 30-Jun-17 14:00:28

The idea that you could have less than 50% men never seems to be an option!

Of course not.

And the "everyone who identifies as non-male" ... means that they can essentially pick and choose how many women they want to have there. Perhaps 10%. And they get to look good all the while being just as bad as any other company.

Because I am sure there'll be a steep rise in the number of non-binary identified men in the area once people hear about this.

vesuvia Fri 30-Jun-17 14:30:50

It is frustrating that even when people and organisations think they are being progressive, they can still be blind to the male-centric anti-progress signals that the male-as-default assumption can generate.

I think the "non-male" category is just a lip-service way for the company to delude itself that this policy has magically transformed it into a female-friendly employer, when the reality will be that it has not done so.

Who even "identifies as non-male" anyway?

RoseTico Fri 30-Jun-17 15:04:43

Non-male is such a grim term. "Are you a woman?" "No, I'm just a non-male." As if male is the default proper way to be a human being, and then there's what's left...

EverythingUnderTheSun Sat 01-Jul-17 15:58:13

I would put money on there being a TRA (or several) behind this. Male women get things done. hmm

VestalVirgin Sat 01-Jul-17 16:17:34

Who even "identifies as non-male" anyway?

Good question. There's loads of women who identify as non-female, but don't yet dare to claim to be male (probably for fear of retribution from actual men), but I can't spontaneously think of a non-binary identified male.

If I were a particularly famous and in-demand artist I'd let them hire me and tell them I identify as male, so please not count me towards the non-males.

At this point, I suppose we have to fight insanity with insanity.

OlennasWimple Sat 01-Jul-17 19:49:17


As you say, it's the assumption that male is the default setting, and everyone else is Not Them

PratStick Sat 01-Jul-17 20:22:31

Everyone is fucking non male at the moment.

newtlover Tue 04-Jul-17 16:54:04

I like the 50% non females idea. Would be quite happy with that. Someone suggest it and watch them struggle to explain why that's not a good idea.

BasketOfDeplorables Tue 04-Jul-17 17:39:52

I'm also in the industry, OP, which means we likely have people in common - terrifying!

I think it's a bit simplistic to say that 'creatives are where the problem is'. It's also things like workplace culture that make it very hard for women. Lack of flexibility around office hours, extreme presenteeism, lack of maternity pay due to freelance structure, I could go on.

Eugh to non-male, too.

OhNoItIsntOhYesItIs Thu 06-Jul-17 13:47:32

Basket I've had issues with this particular company/artistic director for a long time, most recently due to the virtue-signalling of 'Oh, we've signed up to the Equity Fringe Agreement, aren't we the best employer ever?'. No, Sunshine, for years and years and years, you didn't pay anyone anything apart from 'profit share' (ha ha) and exploited long hours and a frankly revolting venue to work in.

But yes, the industry, particularly on the non-performer side (using that term as opposed to backstage because not everyone who is not a performer actually works backstage) is very unfriendly to women, and practically impossible for those who have/want to have children.

And the gender breakdown across the different departments is almost unbelievable sometimes.

BasketOfDeplorables Thu 06-Jul-17 14:32:40

OhNo I also find it insufferable, and considering the previous venture's end a bit shameless. I've heard a good number of stories about them, including an interview process that's rather macho and bordering on exploitative.

A positive is the evening out of male/female ratios in people graduating, but obviously things move slowly at the top. I also find that many male artistic directors see the industry as doninated by women, and cannot see that there is a huge power imbalance.

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