Year One of The Level UP! Initiative: 2021-22

Balancing Act is grateful to the work of our inaugural Strategy Partners who, throughout the 2021-22 season, piloted a range of care supports within their organizations. You can read about their strategies, below, as well as their statements of commitment to continue to implement these policies and practices.

Through the Level UP! initiative, these partners created resources and templates that have been shared with the second cohort partners, and will be shared with the performing arts sector at large in early 2024. We thank them for their stewardship and support!



Pathways to Agreement

Supporting the caregiving needs of artists/arts workers through policy and the contracting process.

Development of a caregiver policy; supporting employee care needs.

“Neworld Theatre is committed to incorporating our Framework of Care at all levels of operations and programming, and to reviewing it constantly to ensure that equity is always at its core.”
Caregiver policy pilot project.

“Why Not Theatre will continue to develop and implement our Caregivers’ Support Policy, which outlines the types of supports offered to artist-caregivers, ensuring that they can pursue their work with as few barriers as possible.”
Supporting the care needs of seasonal and continuous employees.

“Toronto Dance Theatre will integrate Caregiver Support into all aspects of our programming and continue to evaluate what types of support are most needed and what is possible within our organization.”

Childcare Solutions

Initiatives to directly support childcare needs, including on-site care, infrastructure for touring and childcare subsidies.

Supporting a touring artist; development of a resource handbook.

“Harbourfront Centre will continue to work with our programming teams to ensure visiting artists are provided with support, resources and the option to request childcare when travelling with children.”
Childcare support (subsidy, schedule adjustment, travel) offered to all season artists.

“Lunchbox Theatre will continue to integrate Caregiver Support into our programming, with regular review and additions as we learn more.”
Development workshop participants all offered child/family care subsidy and other support.

“Quote Unquote Collective will continue to integrate our caregiver policy into all aspects of our programming, including shorter work-weeks and work-days, childcare subsidy for all artists, time/space to pump/feed, childcare options for audience members and a general vibe of acceptance and flexibility from the moment we call for auditions. This policy will be reviewed and adapted regularly.”

Flexible Working Models

Alternative models for production schedules and administrative positions.

4 day work week for administrative staff.

“Roseneath Theatre will continue to develop limber strategies, with the intended goal of creating an adaptable or 5-day rehearsal model that promotes a culture of care. We will accommodate the needs of those in our organization through planning, budgeting, and providing resources to support a new flexible working model attainable and sustainable for our artists and administrative staff.”
Flex model considerations for a house season, eg. 5-day rehearsal week; development of caregiver needs assessment survey.

“Neptune Theatre will continue to integrate our caregiver policy into all aspects of our programming, with regular review and additions as we learn more. After successful experimentation, Neptune will continue to make flex working models a part of our annual programming and budget considerations going forward – making the work/life balance a priority for all staff, creative and administrative.”
Remote working pilot; turning ad hoc accommodations for caregivers and turning into policies for artists and arts workers that reflect company culture.

“We at Outside the March intend to continue formalizing our previously-unarticulated culture of care by making it a central part of our hiring and HR processes, and by growing our compassionate care fund and flexible work policies.”
Creating an HR resource document for onboarding staff that clarifies the structure and processes of the organization’s flexible working models.

“The Toronto Fringe will continue to work with a flexible model working structure, ensuring all staff including our seasonal workers are offered the opportunity to tell us how they best work and what they need in order to make that happen. We will review our policy documents before each festival to ensure we stay responsive to the work/life balance of the team.”

Compassion Fund

Including a fund in production/operating budgets to support a range of care needs; for example: personal support, travel, and childcare.

Fund to support spring season projects.

“Nightwood is currently determined to sustain a Compassion Fund at Nightwood with .5% funds of operating budget going toward it annually (approximately $3,200). We feel this can then prioritize it while recognizing ebbs and flows of capacity.”
Childcare support ongoing during rehearsal/production of Is God Is.
Compassion Fund pilot during rehearsal/production of White Girls in Moccasins with Manidoons Collective.

“We at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre intend to sustain a Compassion Fund with .5% funds of operating budget going toward it annually.”
A fund for contracted artists and arts workers for Gould’s Wall.

Special Projects

Childcare and travel support.

“Open Pit Theatre intends to provide caregivers with accommodations catered to their specific needs during rehearsals and productions.”
Caregiver subsidy pilot project; reimbursements for caregiving support for rehearsals, training, performance.

“CADA/East, going forward, will include a budget line to support a Caregiving Subsidy annually.”

Level UP! National Roundtable Series, in partnership with PACT

Co-presented with the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres (PACT), these roundtables are a series of public ‘working conversations’ between invited guests and our partner companies who are piloting workplace strategies to support parents and caregivers.

February 23, 2023: Season Planning with Production Leadership with Means of Production and Nightwood Theatre (online). Register HERE

March 6, 2023: Creating a Framework of Care with Neworld Theatre (in-person in Vancouver). Register HERE

The Level UP! Program is guided by Balancing Act’s Steering Committee.

Learn more: Balancing Act’s Steering Committee.