In Your Own Words: working in the industry (Survey Response Part 1)

13 June, 2012 by 6 Comments

Back in February Greenroom ran a survey Working in the Industry. You may have taken part. If you did, many thanks once again.

We asked a particular set of questions not only to get a snapshot of our readership but also to elicit a sense of how the local theatre community was thinking about some topical issues especially as they relate to ‘independent theatre’ for those survey respondents identifying themselves as professional theatre workers.

Greenroom hasn’t published the results of the survey until now but, given recent discussions in some social media sites which, among other things, are looking deeper into the relationship between what is being called by some respondents and in talk around town the ‘main stage’ and the ‘independent’ sector, I thought it useful to do so. From a personal point of view, I am keen to clarify my thinking on the terms we use to define the activity in the sector and to track the evolving relationship between the ‘main stage’ companies and the ‘independents.’

For the readership of Greenroom it gives some data to feed further discussion. Indeed the results that have emerged from what is a small but reasonable sample of respondents (50 in number) are fodder for further questions. A couple spring to mind: ‘Why are so few professional theatre workers not members of a union or guild?’ and, given the number of respondents who are either trained or continue their training, ‘Are professional development opportunities appropriate and of sufficient quality?’ I’m sure there are other implied questions and inferences from these results.

So, firstly, here are the survey results crunched into percentages. The responses to the two open questions will be in a separate post – Part 2 – to be published tomorrow.

Survey Questions:

Are you male or female? M: 41.3% F: 58.7%

53.8% of those identifying as professional are female

Are you based in Queensland? 93.5% were

Do you identify as a professional artist or creative? 84.8% did

Have you undertaken a course of formal study in the performing arts? YES: 78.3% NO: 21.7%

82% identifying as professional have undertaken a course of formal study in the performing arts.

Have you undertaken any other performing-arts related courses of study e.g., masterclasses?  YES: 91.3% NO: 8.7%

 94% identifying as professional have done so.

Are you currently a member of MEAA or another industrial union or professional guild?  YES: 39.1% NO: 60.9%

43.6% identifying as professional are currently members of MEAA or another industrial union or professional guild

Have you ever done any independent theatre work?  YES: 91% NO: 8.7%

94% identifying as professional have worked in independent theatre

If you answered ‘Yes’ to the previous question, were you paid for this work? YES: 50% NO: 50%

56% of those identifying as professional were paid

If you have identified yourself as a professional artist/creative would you ever agree to work in a production for no remuneration? 

97.4% would work for no remuneration


Survey Summary:

The majority of those who responded to the survey self-identified as professional theatre workers. Of those, the majority

have undertaken a formal course of study in the performing arts and/or continue their training through masterclasses or other courses,

are not members of MEAA, an industrial union or other professional guild,

have worked in independent theatre, and 

would agree to work in a production for no remuneration. About 50% have worked for no remuneration for an independent production in the past.


See Part 2 of this post for responses to the following open questions:

  • What do you understand is meant by the term ‘independent theatre’ and
  • ‘For what reasons would you agree to work in a production for no remuneration?’


6 Replies to “In Your Own Words: working in the industry (Survey Response Part 1)”

  1. Editor says:

    Hi Jason! Good questions and food for thought and further inquiry. Thanks. Part 2 (coming tomorrow) doesn’t address the issue of award-wages cf. fee/stipend/profit-share nor did the survey ask people to indicate what % of their gross earnings in a year was made up of arts wages/monies. It wasn’t that probing a survey! What we got was a ‘snapshot’ of what people understood was meant by ‘independent theatre’ and, if they self-identified as professional theatre workers, under what circumstances they would work for no remuneration (presumably) in an independent (but perhaps also an amateur/community) production.

  2. Jason says:

    Here are some other questions. Hopefully they are in part2. 🙂

    1. How many people worked at a professional theatre company as opposed to ‘independent’. Ie they were paid an award wage for their work as opposed to a fee/no re-numeration/profit share?

    2. What percentage of their gross earnings in a year is made up of arts wages/monies?

  3. Editor says:

    It was to me in the arts sector one that needs as much protection as it can get. What I find of more interest is why artists and creatives don’t see the need.

  4. Samantha says:

    That’s no surprise. At the moment in Australia, unions represent less than 20 per cent of the workforce:

    Read more:

  5. Editor says:

    Hi Samantha. Thanks for your comment. ‘Statistically significant sample?’ probably not, but it’s not meant to be anything more than a start and impetus to get a discussion going. No surprises? I found the fact that most professional theatre workers aren’t a member of a union or guild to be quite a surprise.

  6. Samantha says:

    No surprises here, but 50 people is hardly a statistically significant sample.