Balancing Act supports artist caregivers working in the performing arts in Canada by advocating for greater equality, accessibility, and inclusion in the workforce. Our work intersects with anti-racist, gender equity, and other social justice goals aimed at challenging the systems of oppression inherent in contemporary workplace culture in the performing arts and the cultural sector at large.
We champion fair and sustainable employment conditions and support the creation of policies and practices in which caregivers and other marginalized artists and arts workers can thrive.
We believe building support for artist caregivers will contribute to a sector-wide culture shift that results in more equitable work for more performing artists, creating a healthier, more diverse, and vibrant arts community.
At Balancing Act, we understand that our work is aligned with a growing movement to dismantle systems of patriarchy and white supremacy. Balancing Act works collaboratively with arts organizations to reframe the way we think about, and work with caregivers in the arts, approaching this work on a systemic, organizational, and individual level.
Balancing Act was founded in 2019 by Theatre Direct in order to affect change and increase access to employment for caregivers working in the performing arts. In response to the concerns of artists and arts workers raised through focus groups and a commissioned study, Balancing Act offers programming that supports artists, arts workers, and organizations.
Balancing Act envisions a future where care is a central value in the culture of performing arts in Canada.
Why Balancing Act
Caregivers working in the arts are challenged by rehearsal and production schedules that lack flexibility, an inability to attend networking events and performances due to caregiving responsibilities, and barriers to childcare due to low incomes. Traditional models of arts production and aesthetic value, in conjunction with lack of awareness and stigma, means that many voices are not around the creative table, populating our stages, or engaged in arts work.
The pandemic has propelled the notion of the care economy into the forefront of all aspects of society, including the arts sector. Challenges faced by caregivers in the performing arts have been exacerbated, as more people are caring for children, the elderly, and those with illness.
Best practice recommendations from the Report on Equity in Theatre (2018), and The 2019 Report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage: Gender Parity in Canadian Artistic and Cultural Institutions point to the need to create flexible work environments that accommodate different needs. There are signals everywhere that the performing arts sector is looking towards creating an economy of care. A care-led recovery is critical to ensuring a healthy emergence post-pandemic as we reimagine the definition of business as usual alongside other industries.
The People Behind Balancing Act
Founder, Executive Director
Before moving into her current role as Artistic Director of Theatre Direct, Lisa Marie co-created, directed and produced The Tale of a Town – Canada, a theatre and media project develop in collaboration with The National Arts Centre that toured to every province and territory including presentations at Theatre Passe Muraille (ON), The Fredericton Playhouse (NB), TheRead Lisa Marie’s Profile
Alongside her work at Theatre Direct, Susie Burpee is a dance artist, creator, teacher, and mother to two young children. She danced for many years with Dancemakers, Le Groupe Dance Lab, and Tedd Robinson (10 Gates Dancing) and recently with Hanna Kiel (Human Body Expression) and Alyssa Martin (Rock Bottom Movement). Augmenting her dance trainingRead Susie’s Profile
Margaret is a Dora nominated actor and producer. As Artistic Associate in the Performing Arts Department at Harbourfront Centre, Margaret was Festival Curator for HarbourKids, and Coordinator for the Hatch Emerging Artists Residency from 2011-2014. She was also part of the World Stage team from 2008-2014 and was the principal coordinator of the Toronto productionRead Margaret’s Profile
Saba Akhtar is an actor, writer and producer raised in Houston, Texas and based in Toronto, Ontario. They studied Theatre and Performance Studies at The University of Toronto, later completing training with The Watah Theatre School and The A.M.Y Project. Saba has performed on the stages of Canadian Stage, Buddies in Bad Times, and SummerworksRead Saba’s Profile
Meet Our Steering Committee
Balancing Act is grateful for the work of our national Steering Committee, made up of artistic leaders in the performing arts. Balancing Act’s Steering Committee serves as a consultation body, offering guidance and assisting with outreach from a multiplicity of perspectives and experiences.
Playwright and Dramaturg
Canadian Actors Equity Association Council
Black Women Film! Canada
Director & Assistant Professor
Toronto Metropolitan University
MOTHRA: Artist-Parent Project
Open Pit Theatre
Community Arts Guild
Soulpepper Theatre and the Young Centre
Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts
Actor, Author & Storyteller
Actor & Theatre Creator
Associated Designers of Canada
Playwright & Director
L’eau du bain
Stage Managing the Arts
Balancing Act and Theatre Direct are located on the traditional territories of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat and other nations recorded and unrecorded who we recognize as the traditional caretakers of this land. We acknowledge that Toronto/Tkaronto today is home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Métis people including many residential school survivors and families that have been impacted by the policies of the residential school system.
The work of Balancing Act seeks to respond to the provocations within the final report of Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC), specifically: How do we change the way we govern ourselves to avoid recreating colonized systems? How do we evaluate and change harmful programs and policies? How do we start conversations that lead to radical change?
The Balancing Act Steering Committee Members also wish to acknowledge these Lands and Territories from which they join us.
The Ancestral and Unceded Indigenous Territories of the Coast Salish Peoples
Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), Stó:lō and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations.
The Traditional Territory of the Kanien’kehà:ka
A place which has long served as a site of meeting and exchange amongst many First Nations including the Kanien’kehá:ka of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, Huron/Wendat, Abenaki, and Anishinaabeg.
The Traditional Lands of Treaty 7 Territory
Comprised of the Stoney Nakoda Nations of Wesley, Chiniki, and Bearspaw; three Nations of the Blackfoot Confederacy: the Pikani, Kainai, and Siksika; and the Tsuu T’ina of the Dene people.
Treaty 7 territory is also shared with the Métis Nation of Alberta, Region III. Before the signing of Treaty 7, and prior to the establishment of provincial boundaries, this region was also used by the Ktunaxa and the Maskwacis people.
The Haldimand Tract
Land that was granted to the Haudenosaunee of the Six Nations of the Grand River, within the territory of the Neutral, Anishinaabe, and Haudenosaunee peoples.