Wednesday 6 May 2009

Gender Conference in UK

The Stage reports that the Sphinx Theatre Company in London is hosting a conference entitled "Vamps, Vixens and Feminists - The Elephant in the Room" to debate issues around the employment and representation of women in theatre, film and television.

It's funded by the Arts Council England, and is being organised in collaboration with industry bodies, including Equity and the Writers' Guild of Great Britain.

Sue Parrish, artistic director of Sphinx, said the introduction of the Gender Equality Duty in 2007 - which states that public bodies must take steps to pro-actively promote equality between women and men - had presented an “opportunity to raise these issues and be heard”.

She said two years since the directive came into force, ACE was still in the process of implementing the Gender Equality Duty, and added: "The event seemed like a wonderful opportunity for professionals from different parts of the industry to get together and really discuss what is going on and what might be done."

The conference will feature contributors such as playwright Tanika Gupta and Katherine Rake - the chief executive of gender equality campaigning body the Fawcett Society.

Parrish said that she had deliberately avoided inviting political figures, including Equality and Human Rights Commission chair Trevor Phillips, because she did not want to hear "a lot of empty rhetoric from politicians who are having to make a fairly bland statement".

The conference will be made up of a number of panels, including one that will address cultural and historical female stereotypes, led by Manchester University professor Vivien Gardner. Other panels will focus on writers, with contributions from Writers’ Guild president David Edgar and screenwriter Tracy Brabin, and actresses, led by Kate Buffery, who has been at the forefront of an Equity campaign to address the inequalities faced by older female performers.

The conference will take place in the Olivier Theatre at the National on Tuesday, June 16 from 10am until 1.30pm. Places are free and can be booked by emailing or by calling 020 7401 9994 by Friday June 5.

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