2013 Groundlings: some observations

This entry is part 11 of 11 in the series Facts & Figures
Voting in the 2013 Groundlings ballot has now closed. It's been the most successful so far in the 4 years since the Groundlings Awards have been in operation with over one thousand shares on Facebook and almost as many votes collected through Survey Monkey. Results were published on Friday 14th February - our traditional love day for those who've received the highest vote by popular acclaim in fourteen categories. We thought you'd be interested in some of the other statistics and trends that we've extracted from the whole process.

Facebook was, by far, the most popular social network informant with word of mouth second and twitter coming third.

Many votes also came from those who had nominated or voted in the Groundlings before. If there is any doubt out there as to Facebook's not being a force for promotion or marketing in Brisbane and for the theatre, this may put it to rest. You probably knew this, anyway.

The birth date range of voters extended from 1926 through 2000.

The first question - part of the compulsory demographic-gathering section of the survey - asked for a date of birth by year and this is where the breakdown of voters indicated some clear differences in voting patterns. We should mention that this section of the survey depends for its accuracy on truthful responses.  

The majority of ballots were submitted by the under-40s.

Could this be because the over-40s weren't interested/didn't get the message/don't use social networks as much and/or that the under-40s were/did/do? Break the under-40s down further by separating out the under-18s, and further interesting trends show. By the way, we chose 1974 as the break-line because it's usual when talking about theatre-goers to refer to the received wisdom that goes something like this: it's after some years in the wilderness of career-building, mortgage-paying, and child-raising and around the age of 35-40 that once-active theatre-goers 'return' to the fold. Spurious maybe but out there. Companies may well have figures to affirm or dispute this though I do recall David Berthold telling me a couple of years ago that the audiences at La Boite were pretty much 35 and under. The under-18s are keen voters in the Groundlings and you might surmise this is via fan-based support for companies whose work they attend through school visits. However, the voting patterns among the 20s and 30s are pretty much the same i.e., their taste and that of their younger companions are very similar in terms of their choices. Not surprisingly, what emerges overall is the difference in taste expressed through choice between the over-40s and the under-40s, and that it was the voting from the under-40s which largely determined the outcome of the balloting in many but not all categories. In several they were in lock step all the way. Voting was not first past the post but averaged out across nominees in a category, so second and even third preferences in some categories determined winners. It's impossible to know whether voters took this into account when allocating their votes i.e., simply voted 1 for their favourite and let the numbers fall where they did elsewhere in a particular category.

Far more people voted than nominated and not everyone voted in every category.

Part of the reason we're attributing to this year's large numbers of voters - apart from the increasing popularity of the Groundlings - has to do with the decision we took to add two additional nominees in the majority of categories. We will probably continue to do this in the future as we continue to refine the nomination and voting processes.

Of those who eventually voted, the majority are not currently students enrolled in a performing arts course.

We did not ask whether voters had completed their secondary education.

The majority of voters self-identified as professional artists or creatives.

Of these, a whopping majority - approximately 91% - are not members of MEAA. This trend continues from previous years and is indicative, we suspect, of the falling membership in unions Australia-wide. We did not ask respondents to say why they are not members.

Towards Diversity: La Boite Unlocked – 2

This entry is part 10 of 11 in the series Facts & Figures

Along with David Berthold (Artistic Director La Boite Theatre) and Jo Pratt (BEMAC) I was part of the provocateur triumvirate at last night's La Boite Unlocked series. After the Q&A at the end of what was a very relaxed, thoughtful hour and a half, someone asked if our talks would be made available. Here, with a few tweaks, is what I had to say. I followed David's talk which you can find on his blog Carving in Snow. There were, of course, a few ad-libs and diversions along the way which inevitably happens as one speaks. This is the gist of it, though.

Image: Greenroom

Towards Diversity

The title of tonight’s session is telling - towards diversity. The towards part. I’m going to have to use a much overworked metaphor - the idea of a journey towards something - or maybe journeys because, if we’re talking about diversity, then there isn’t just one road. For women, the journey is part of a process that started about 2000 years ago, and it's one that meanders off the beaten track from time to time, and starts and stops intermittently. To put things into some kind of perspective, it was really only about 150 years ago that the first blips on western culture's historical timeline marked the coming to legislation of various women's rights issues. They'd been a long time coming - are still coming - and the journey to equality for women as part of the wider civil rights movement (as David mentioned) has been one of the great political challenges and civic engagements of the 20th century. As to fits and starts in a field closer to home - the theatre - a comment in the recent Australia Council Report on Women in Theatre (WIT) notes that about every 10 years or so someone asks 'Where are the women?' There is usually an explosion of outrage followed by a flurry of discussion and a gradual settling down into silence and inaction. Gains are lost in the one step forward, two steps back routine. Maybe creeping or stumbling towards diversity would be a better descriptor for the journeys we're on. Continue reading Towards Diversity: La Boite Unlocked – 2

In Your Own Words: working in the industry (Survey Response Part 2)

This entry is part 8 of 11 in the series Facts & Figures

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 at large was thinking about a couple of topical matters i.e., the meaning of the term ‘independent theatre.' I wrote on my own blog several years ago about the terms independent and professional as they apply to theatre. From a personal point of view, I'm still interested in the way we use these terms to define our engagement in the continuum of activities in the theatre sector in Queensland. The results of the survey haven't been published 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 ‘main stage’ and the independent theatres, it's probably useful to do so. Part 1 of this post (published yesterday) looked at the responses to the survey questions. This post, Part 2 provides snippet responses to the two open questions on the survey:

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

This entry is part 9 of 11 in the series Facts & Figures
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. Continue reading In Your Own Words: working in the industry (Survey Response Part 1)

Greenroom’s Top Posts in 2011

This entry is part 7 of 11 in the series Facts & Figures
If ever we were in doubt - and we're not - that reviews are the hottest posts here, the stats for the most-read articles on Greenroom in the past 12 months prove the case. Apart from the home page - which would have included reviews plus latest posts - here are the  top 5 individual post-reads in 2011:  
Review: Edward Gant’s Amazing Feats of Loneliness – La Boite & Sydney Theatre Company @ The Roundhouse 1,403
Review: Julius Caesar – La Boite Theatre 1,222
Review: Faustus – Queensland Theatre Company & Bell Shakespeare @ Brisbane Powerhouse 1,059
Review: boy girl wall – La Boite Theatre & The Escapists 1,017
Review: The Removalists – Queensland Theatre Company at Bille Brown Studio 1,017
  Can we just add a 'thank-you' for your reading loyalty. We look forward to growing Greenroom's readership in what will be our third year of operation in 2012.

Second quarterly report: jobs onstage

This entry is part 6 of 11 in the series Facts & Figures

Here it is. Further to a couple of earlier posts, Jobs for the girls: logging the stats and First quarterly report: jobs onstage, here's the second of four planned reports of cast numbers in programmed productions for both subsidised companies in Brisbane in 2011. We've added this quarter's figures to the last to give a running total.

Plays include: An Oak Tree and Faustus (Queensland Theatre Company) and Statespeare and Edward Gant's Amazing Feats of Loneliness (La Boite Theatre). When it comes to Queensland Theatre Company's production of An Oak Tree, things get a bit tricky. An Oak Tree included appearances by 1 male actor and 23 guest actors (10 M; 13 F) in the same role across the season. Each guest appeared in one performance only. 11 other actors (8 M; 3F) played the role during the rehearsal period. The guest figures for this production appear in the first chart (below) Comparative Chart (i) even though they represent the equivalent of a casual rather than a seasonal acting engagement in a programmed production.
Comparative Chart (i)
Comparative Chart (ii) (below) excludes the guest actor figures for An Oak Tree.
Comparative Chart (ii)
Any errors or omissions, please let us know. A much better and fuller picture of employment of actors would include figures for other independent productions. Whilst this would be problematical as a ‘living-wage’ employment statistic (most indie productions are stipend or fee-based, deferred payment or non-waged) it would give a sense of how many performance opportunities are being made available for female actors, which is where this conversation began. These quarterly reports do not include other casual employment for actors, such as play-readings, workshops and other creative development activities by both companies Just for your information, the National Minimum Wage in Australia as of July 2011 is set at $589.30 per week or $15.51 per hour. Source: ASU National Net To see what your union has negotiated as minimum rates of pay for professional work, you can download a pdf file of the 2010 Equity Minimums from the MEAA website Alliance Online. The next update here will be in September.