Balancing Act was founded in 2019 by Lisa Marie DiLiberto, Artistic Director of Theatre Direct, with the goal to affect change and increase access to employment for parents and caregivers* working in the arts. We collaborate with artists, arts workers, and arts organizations to develop pathways for change at an individual, organizational and systemic level.

*Balancing Act defines ‘caregivers’ as individuals who care for children, aging adults, or those in need of personal or primary care. We acknowledge that care work can include care for blood, adopted, or chosen family, colleagues, and caring for others out of duty.

The team behind The Toronto Fringe Festival, Level UP! Strategy Partner 2021-22, Flexible Working Models

%

of artists surveyed in 2019 stated they had to turn down work due to caregiving responsibilities

Since 2021, 76 Balancing Act partners have implemented caregivers supports within their arts organizations

%

of artists surveyed in 2023 have been able to participate more fully in their work due to this caregiver support

The work of Balancing Act is built upon the work of artists and companies who, for generations, have been caring for loved ones, for each other, and for our sector. We are here to help uplift this work, do the heavy lifting of advocating for resources, and create ease for new iterations and implementation of supportive strategies.

Vision

Balancing Act envisions a future where care is a central value within the cultural sector in Canada, and where robust support creates greater access to equitable work for artists and cultural workers and arts leaders, creating a healthier, more diverse, and vibrant arts community.

A woman holding her baby while teaching
Lance Sampson aka Aquakultre and his daughter, during Level UP! Strategy Partner 2b’s ‘Aquakultre Project’ 2023. Photo credit: Daniel Ledwell
Balancing Act Steering Committee Member and Artistic Director of SpiderWebShow Adrienne Wong and her daugher. Photo credit: Tetsuro Shigematsu

Our Mission

We champion and advocate for fair and sustainable employment conditions and workplace policies in the arts, so that caregivers and those with specialized care needs can thrive.

We develop and offer care-centred programs that enable both individuals and organizations to work better.

We mobilize research and knowledge at the intersection of art and care.

Purpose

Caregivers working in the arts, primarily women, face distinct challenges and barriers. Rehearsal and production schedules require long hours and lack flexibility, and artists and arts workers often have to turn down opportunities because of conflicting caregiving responsibilities and financial barriers to childcare. Outdated models of arts production, coupled with limited awareness and stigma, contribute to the exclusion of caregivers at decision-making tables, and within the arts in general.

Balancing Act is a response to the call for reduced barriers to employment and greater support for those with caring responsibilities, as well as those with specialized care needs working in the arts in Canada.

Values

Lean In and Listen

Responding to calls from within the arts community inspire our actions and knowledge mobilizations.

Explore and Learn Together

Collaborating with partners and the arts community to discover new ways of supporting one another.

Serve and Help

Creating supportive containers that facilitate better practices to empower artists and art-making.

Acknowledge and Uplift

Recognizing that care labour has been ongoing for generations, and offering attributions.

Anti-Oppressive Statement

Balancing Act is committed to the ongoing work of engaging with anti-oppressive principles and practices. We strive to provide spaces conducive to engaging generatively across differences, free from harassment and discrimination. All are invited and supported to participate meaningfully, regardless of social location and values including age, ethnicity, race, ancestry, place of origin, citizenship, sex, pregnancy & breastfeeding, gender expression, gender identity, sexual orientation, ability, class, and religious or spiritual beliefs.

We recognize that caregivers from underrepresented groups experience greater barriers to employment and work-life balance. Balancing Act aims to amplify support for those who identify as equity-deserving, and create increased opportunities for these artists and cultural workers.

Raising children in not a private hobby, not an individual duty. It is a social responsibility, one that requires robust community support.

Angela Garbes
Author, Mothering as Social Change 

Healthy villages are organized and governed by grannies and aunties. We need to reconceive ourselves in the process, ‘all our relations’ outside of colonial and patriarchal models.

Dr. Kim Anderson
Canada Research Chair in Storying Indigenous Relational Futures

The Team

We’d love to hear from you! Contact us here.

Lisa Marie DiLiberto

Founder & Lead Advisor

Balancing Act

Before moving into her current role as Artistic Director of Theatre Direct, Lisa Marie co-created…

Susie Burpee

Executive Director

Balancing Act

Susie Burpee is a dance artist, creator, teacher, and mother to two young children…

Margaret Evans

Producer

Balancing Act

Margaret is a Dora nominated actor and producer. As Artistic Associate…

Meryl Ochoa

Associate Producer

Balancing Act

Meryl (she/they) is a multi-disciplinary artist who immigrated to Canada with her family in 2012…

Kate Cornell

Strategic and Administrative Manager

Balancing Act

Kate Cornell (she/her) is a feminist, an advocate, and a writer. She has worked…

Our Steering Committee 2023-24

Composed of cultural leaders from across the country, Balancing Act’s Steering Committee guides the project from a diverse set of perspectives and experiences. We are grateful to past committee members Neema Bickersteth, Andrea Donaldson, Lisa Karen Cox, Sheila Kearney-Miller, Julie Lebel, Viv Moore, Janelle Rainville, Kelly Read, and Claire Wynveen for their foundational contributions.

Intisar Awisse

Playwright and Dramaturg

Why Not Theatre

Waterloo, ON

Maev Beaty

Actor and Theatre Creator

 

Stratford, ON

Brefny Caribou

Performer, Writer

 

Toronto, ON

Ella Cooper

Founder

Black Women Film! Canada

Toronto, ON

Sarah Cullen

Founder

MOTHRA: Artist-Parent Project

Toronto, ON

Ruth Howard

Artistic Director

Jumblies Theatre

Toronto, ON

Geneviève Doyon

Co-Artistic Director

Open Pit Theatre

Whitehorse, YK

Penny Couchie

Co-artistic Director

Aanmitaagzi

Toronto, ON

Lucy Eveleigh

Festival Producer

Luminato Festival Toronto

Toronto, ON

Chelsea Haberlin

Artistic Director

Neworld Theatre

Vancouver, BC

Beth Helmers

Artistic Director

Community Arts Guild

Toronto, ON

Cynthia Lickers-Sage

Executive Director

Indigenous Performing Arts Alliance

Toronto, ON

Shira Leuchter

Actor & Theatre Creator

 

Toronto, ON

Djennie Laguerre

Actor, Author & Storyteller

 

Toronto, ON

Jacoba Knaapen

Executive Director

TAPA

Toronto, ON

Karine Ricard

Artistic Director

Théâtre français de Toronto

Toronto, ON

Adrienne Wong

Artistic Director

SpiderWebShow Performance

Banff, AB

Ken MacKenzie

President

Associated Designers of Canada

Toronto, ON

Anne-Marie Ouellet

Playwright & Director

 

Montreal, QC

Jagroop Mehta

Supervisor

Museum & Culture Experiences, City of Guelph

Guelph, ON

Liz Forsberg

Partnerships Lead

Impact, Ontario Trillium Foundation

Toronto, ON