In any change, the solution is the same size as the problem. For example, as we become more aware of global warming and diminishing oil reserves, we may convince ourselves that changing light bulbs, recycling and driving smaller cars is enough to solve the problem. This puts us in a state called 'cognitive dissonance', where we are half awake, believing we have been given the answer, yet knowing it is not really a solution for the problem.
The rush to solve the problem of inequality of opportunity for women directors in the Australian theatre workplace has lead to a flurry of events and initiatives in the past five months: the 'Where are the Women' forum held at Belvoir Street in late 2009 might be seen as one of these knee-jerk solutions. Despite the fact that this event was hosted by Belvoir Street, there has been no real desire for systemic change within this company. A transparent process for the selection of the new Associate Director at Belvoir Street is one way that this example of 'cognitive dissonance' could have been addressed. However, Belvoir Street has chosen a new Associate Director without an open process that could have provided the opportunity for female directors to apply for this position. Like changing the light bulbs, or driving an electric car, hosting forums and announcing initiatives for women directors within a particular age bracket does not address the underlying systemic problem.
If the MPAB companies truly wish to find a solution that is the same size as the problem, then the federal Equal Opportunity legislation may be a good place to start. Accountability, transparency and a willingness to engage with change and to consider new structures are the ways in which the MPAB companies might build a bridge between their own practice and the small to medium sector. If there is courage and energy for change, then we could create an industry where inclusion, resilience and social relevance are the pillars that support an excellent national theatre.