Gender equality plan at The Lir

David Prendeville

Last week, The Lir Academy, as well as a number of other Dublin and Irish-based theatre companies launched their plan to tackle gender inequality in the industry. The policy is described as “The Lir’s commitment to maintaining gender equality across the organisation and ensuring the dignity and respect of all staff and students.”

It has been constructed as a considered response to the Waking the Feminists grassroots movement in Irish theatre launched in November 2015. 

The strategy is set to run up until 2022, with statistics published each year until then and a thorough review to take place afterwards. Elements covered under the policy include: Governance, programming, casting, technical show roles and professional placements, curriculum development, student recruitment, staff recruitment, facilitating non-binary students, harassment and bullying, tools and support, industry and wider sectoral issues.

Key points raised include a commitment to having a fifty-fifty gender split between programming plays directed and written by living artists, as well as working to improve the balance of programming classical works by researching, reading and producing neglected works by female playwrights.

Policies are already in place to ensure that there is full protection and support resources for anyone who is subjected to sexual harassment or bullying. It is their aim to also have gender-balance on the staff and board, as well as gender parity in terms of students admitted to the academy.

The strategy was launched by Minister of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan in the Lir. She said of the policy: “It is vital that women’s voices are allowed to reverberate on stage, across the cultural sector and across society as a whole. The theatre organisations here today are pioneering what I hope will become standard practice across the sector and across society as a whole.” Other theatres committing to the policy include The Abbey Theatre, The Gate, and The Everyman Theatre in Cork.