Editorial: we need more women on stage

The number of women in the arts is increasing – but at a disappointingly slow rate. Maria Roberts reflects

We’d like to think that in Europe and the US, women are competing on an even playing field with men. In truth, this is far from the case. In our Spotlight feature this issue, Claire Ramtuhul investigates executive salaries: of the nine biggest earners taking home more than USD1m annually, only one woman holds top rank: Deborah Borda, president and CEO of LA Philharmonic.

In the UK, it’s good to see that two women have secured top positions: Seona Reid CBE has been named chair of the National Theatre of Scotland; and Sue Owen has been appointed as the UK’s permanent secretary at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. And at the Gramophone Awards, Alison Balsom, trumpeter – and single mother – made history as the first British woman to win Artist of the Year (why has it taken so long?); whilst Record of the Year went to the Moldovan violinist, Patricia Kopatchinskaja. But of the 17 Gramophone Award- winners, these two were the only women to be recognised. Yes, other awards went to organisations and companies – the overwhelming majority of which are led by men.

Meanwhile in India, the country’s bitter fight for gender equality sadly extends to its music. In First Person, Sandeep Virdee, Darbar Festival director, asks: where are the women? He discusses the difficulties faced by women working in the arts in India. Women, he says, still do not have equal rights to men and this filters into the performing arts world, where female artists throughout history have been cast as either the temptress or divine. Furthermore, single women are discouraged from travelling with male musicians and married musicians will only travel with their husbands – thus they are forced to take a reduced fee for each performance.

Read the latest issue of IAM here.

Photo: Anupama Bhagwat performed at the 2013 Darbar Festival © Sandeep Virdee