Tuesday, June 28, 2016

AGE Recognizes Two Portland Theaters for Moves Toward Age and Gender Equity

It seems like it's been forever that people have been talking about the lack of gender equity in theater, in terms of playwrights and plays represented when seasons are chosen, the kinds of roles available, the huge disparity in the number of women hired as directors, designers, artistic directors and other major players when compared to the number of men, and a host of other very obvious issues. Stats have been published, panel discussions have been organized, articles have been written about the lack of parity (and why parity isn't enough) and about the invisibility of women over 50, which certainly bears on the discussion. Individual theaters and theater artists have tried to find ways to break the logjam, but it never seems to really crack things wide open.

A group in Portland, Oregon, Age & Gender Equity in the Arts, founded by actor and activist Jane Vogel in 2014, has decided to take a positive and direct approach to the issue. For Vogel, it's all about advocacy for equity, diversity and inclusion. And last night at Portland's Drammy Awards, as part of that effort, Vogel handed out a total of $30,000 to recognize two theaters "that promote and exhibit age and gender equity in their programming."

At the Drammys: AGE Founder and Board President Jane Vogel (L)
with Philip Cuomo, Producing Artistic Director of CoHo,
and Karla Mason Smith, AGE Executive Director.
In this inaugural year, AGE awarded $20,000 to CoHo Productions and $10,000 to Profile Theatre. In its 2016-17 season, CoHo will offer three out of four productions written by women, while Profile, which focuses on a single playwright each season, chose Tanya Barfield as its central artist for 2016. Both theaters evidenced an understanding of what their role can be in changing the landscape of Portland theater on-stage and off to "create a movement for social justice which revolutionizes age and gender equity."

AGE's Karla Mason Smith (L) and Jane Vogel (R) with
Profile Theatre's Interim Artistic Director Lauren Bloom Hanover
In a piece she wrote for Oregon Artswatch, Vogel said, "I believe that together we can create conditions where a woman’s opportunities to achieve her full potential are not compromised because of her gender or her age. I am proud of Portland theater for embracing AGE’s efforts to make this happen."

Vogel has already announced both a fundraiser (if you make a donation today, you get a T-shirt) and a conference planned for March 2017 to keep the Age & Gender Equity momentum going.

When it comes to this kind of initiative, AGE and Portland are leading the way. Today, Portland and tomorrow, the world? Let's hope so!

1 comment:

  1. AGE--A great idea backed by passion and supported by hard work. Congratulations Jane!