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The Equity Census: Staging the Future

January 23, 201923 January 2019

Situation of artists

Canadian Actors’ Equity Association



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Based on a survey of 3,156 members of Canadian Actors’ Equity Association (CAEA) in 2015, this report includes extensive demographic information as well as members’ views and experiences of barriers to employment. Given that CAEA has about 6,000 members – “professional artists working in live performance” including “performers (i.e., actors, singers and dancers), directors, choreographers, fight directors and stage managers, engaged in theatre, opera and dance in English Canada” – the Equity Census had a response rate of 55.9% from its online, paper, and telephone surveys. Despite the high response rate, there is uncertainty as to whether the respondents provide a representative sample of all CAEA members (as is the case with any survey where respondents self-select whether to participate).

The report analyzed survey findings by “ability, age, ethnocultural and/or racial identity …, gender identity and sexual orientation as well as by measures associated with the Equity membership (i.e., area of live performance, primary discipline, year member joined Equity and formal training)”. Some of the key demographic findings are:

  • 45% of responding members identified as male, 54% identified as female, and 0.6% identified as transgender or gender nonbinary.
  • 15% identified as racially diverse (based on self-identification as a person of colour, as a member of a visible minority group, or as having specific ethnocultural and/or racial identities, including “Black/African; Asian; Indigenous; or Mixed/Biracial”).
  • 8% were D/deaf and / or had a disability, 90% were able bodied, and 2% preferred not to say.
  • 78% identified as heterosexual, 16% as LGBTQ, and 4% preferred not to say.

Regarding members’ employment experiences and “potential barriers to employment”, the survey found that:

  • “Racially diverse members were more likely than Caucasian/White members to indicate they did not feel adequately represented in Canadian live performance (48% of [racially diverse members] vs 9% of [Caucasian/White]” members.
  • 65% of members indicated that their age is a barrier to work opportunities.
  • “Female members indicated concerns related to the underrepresentation and lack of opportunities for women in live performance”.

Regarding members’ incomes, the survey results show that:

  • The average overall personal income was $41,700, with lower incomes reported by female members, younger members, members who are D/deaf and/or have a disability, and racially diverse members.
  • Average income from Equity engagements was $16,900, with lower incomes from Equity engagements “for members who identified as D/deaf and/or members with a disability, older members (>56) and Racially Diverse Members”.

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