Thank you, Madam Chair.
Good morning, members of the committee.
Thank you for inviting me to speak to this distinguished committee today about gender parity in arts organizations at the board and artistic leadership level. Debbie Collins has kindly offered to accompany me today in case members have questions on which they wish to drill down into our organization on the human rights agenda and parity issues.
We would like to thank each and every parliamentarian here today for their kind support of our National Arts Centre.
The NAC is always pleased to speak to members of Parliament about opportunities and issues facing the arts in Canada. While we're located just down from Parliament Hill, the NAC is a national organization that acts as a catalyst for performance, creation, and learning.
Every day we collaborate with artists and arts organizations across Canada, and strive to make a difference in communities from coast to coast to coast. Our increased national role has been spearheaded by our president and CEO.
Peter Herrndorf will leave his position next month. Recognized as a leader and a visionary, he has promoted performing arts across the country.
He has also been a leader in another area, gender diversity. With the full support of the NAC board of trustees, our senior management team, of which 11 out of 21 members are women, has ensured that gender parity has been achieved.
The senior management team includes Ms. Jayne Watson, the CEO of the NAC Foundation, our private fundraising arm.
As for our artistic leadership team, five members out of seven, or roughly 71%, are women. They include Cathy Levy of Montreal, Executive Producer of NAC Dance; Brigitte Haentjens, also from Montreal, who leads our French theatre department; Jillian Keiley, from St. John's, Newfoundland, who leads English theatre; her fellow Newfoundlander, Heather Moore, who is the Artistic Producer of our National Creation Fund; and finally, Heather Gibson, a Manitoban by way of Halifax, who heads our NAC Presents Canadian music series.
In addition, three of our associate artistic directors are women.
Those women, those leaders, are part of the NAC's administrative and creative direction teams. They help us tell Canada's stories and enhance female voices across the country. They inspire leaders and future leaders in arts and they set the example for arts organizations here and elsewhere.
In addition, in recent years the NAC has maintained very good overall representation of women in its workforce. According to the last employment equity status report prepared by the Canadian Human Rights Commission in January 2016, women are well represented in all occupational groups at the NAC, and nearly half of all positions are held by women. That's above the industry average. In that regard, our performance contributes to better representation of women throughout the industry.
Unfortunately, when we look at the numbers of women as artistic directors in Canada overall, we still have a long way to go. At one point last year, we were surprised to learn that Jillian Keiley, Director of our English theatre, was the only female artistic director among the largest non-profit theatres in Canada as a result of a number of shifts that have occurred in recent years. Since then, thankfully, we have seen the appointment of a number of brilliant female artistic directors. They include Ashlie Corcoran at the Arts Club in Vancouver and Eda Holmes at the Centaur Theatre in Montreal. Still, among larger theatres, artistic directors remain predominantly male.
In the orchestral world, music directors are predominantly men. However, the numbers increase at the executive director level. Of the 10 major orchestras in Canada, 60% of the executive directors are women.
In the dance community, we see many women choreographers heading companies, which they have sometimes founded themselves. However, when we look at ballet organizations, we see that women in high-level positions—such as Karen Kain of the National Ballet of Canada, and Emily Molnar, at Ballet BC—are fairly rare.
In the recorded music industry, there's significant representation of women at the executive director and artistic director levels in major non-profit music festivals, but in commercial festivals, there are very few women at the top. To have more women, more of them need opportunities for internships, apprenticeships, and experience in supporting roles. However, most organizations can't afford to invest in employees at that level, and funds for apprenticeships are limited. To help increase the number of women artistic directors, more training opportunities need to be created.
In theatre, we are encouraged that more training opportunities are becoming available. In Montreal, that training includes the new artistic director program at the National Theatre School, the HEC international arts management master's program, and there's the Queen's University master's in arts leadership program. There's another one coming in the west that I'm not yet allowed to share with anyone, and that's very good news.
Let us switch gears now and talk about boards of directors. Achieving gender parity at the board level is critical, particularly in large institutions such as performing arts centres, festivals, orchestras, and our museums. The good news is that many arts organizations in Canada are trying to address gender parity on their boards. The Professional Association of Canadian Theatre's pledge initiative has challenged arts organizations to address gender inequality, including their boards.
There's a similar movement in the Canadian music industry. As you may be aware, the group Across the Board, led by music industry leaders Keely Kemp and Joanne Setterington, is working with a number of boards on gender parity in the hopes of creating a healthier industry for everyone. That advocacy group's target is 50% women on the boards of directors of organizations by the year 2020.
We believe that the federal government is doing an excellent job of addressing gender parity on boards of arts and cultural organizations through its open application, Governor in Council appointments process. Through that process, in partnership with the federal government, the National Arts Centre has been able to recruit a remarkably talented representational board that has gender parity. It includes five female trustees besides the chair: our Vice-Chair Susan Glass of Winnipeg; Gail O'Brien from Calgary, who chairs our capital planning committee—as you know we've gone through a big building campaign; Kim Bozak from Toronto, a marketing expert, chairs that committee; and Tracee Smith, by definition a financial expert from Toronto. The terrific men on our board include Don Walcot of Montreal, who chairs audit and finance; Enrico Scichilone, un avocat, chairs our governance, nominating, and ethics committee, as well as our human resources committee. As well, Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin, Mayor of Gatineau, and Ottawa mayor Jim Watson are in their ex officio roles as members of the board.
Here, ladies and gentlemen, is perhaps a helpful twist. In addition, many institutions at the government level have it right in their bylaws to add advisers or outside board members to their committees, much like they do in the private sector. These members have a vote at the committee level and, as you know, the recommendations of a committee are strong endorsements for a board. Our outside board members also include a number of brilliant women, including Toby Greenbaum, formerly of Public Works; Susan Cartwright, who led the public service—both of whom are from Ottawa; Elizabeth Roscoe from Chelsea; and Louise Sicuro, an outstanding cultural leader in Quebec.
Finally, Madam Chair, the NAC CEO and artistic leadership and senior management teams are in frequent touch with our colleagues from across the country, and they have sometimes assisted with questions on governance matters when we are asked. Throughout Canada, arts organizations are working to improve the representation of women at the board and artistic director level. We applaud the federal government for paying attention to this issue, and we are happy to help this important cause in every possible way.
To close, our experience at the NAC has been that a culture that values diversity is key to achieving gender parity within an organization. How do create such a culture? Well, it starts at the top. When a strong leadership chases diversity at the top—that is, at senior management, the board, and artistic leadership levels—it infuses the rest of the organization. The result is a more balanced, inclusive organization that truly reflects our society.
Thank you very much. I will gladly answer your questions.