The Level UP! Initiative

Balancing Act’s Level UP! Initiative supports performing arts organizations, companies, collectives, festivals, residency programs and project-based initiatives as they explore the creation of policies and practices that support parents, caregivers and care needs. 

The Level UP! program offers financial support, consultation, and evaluation as partners explore the implementation of supportive measures for parents and caregivers.

Through the Level UP! initiative, organizations and collectives create resources and templates to be shared with the performing arts sector at large, supporting a culture shift toward increased access for artists and arts workers with caring responsibilities.

Strategy Consultant: Jeanne LeSage, LeSage Arts Management

Project Evaluation: Meredith Davis and Rebecca Thomas Kahn, Good Roots Consulting

To learn more about our past Level UP! Strategy Partners click HERE.

2022-23 Level UP! Partners and Pilot Strategies:

Pathways to Agreement

Supporting the caregiving needs of artists/arts workers through policy and the contracting process: For example: creating care policies, wrap-around supports, onboarding processes, needs assessments.

Canadian Dance Assembly: Life force over workforce: Cultivating a holistic and embodied culture of care in the workplace.
Greenhouse Arts Collective: Creating an accommodations plan for working with a Disabled artist.
Good Women Dance Collective: Creating a framework that states our commitment to being a care-centered organization; includes a wrap-around Care Policy with a procedure for requesting and creating Support Plans for project artists.
MT Space: Reviewing our methods for wrap-around care; improving support systems for staff while addressing mental health, burnout and work-life balance, with a goal of sharing learnings with the sector.
Persephone Theatre: Piloting a Patron Childcare Program for the spring production of The Birds & The Bees. Creating a Care Policy, with the intention of embedding it as an organizational lens, and applying it across programs and employment relationships.
Tara Cheyenne Performance: Developing policies for employees and contracted artists to request flexible working options and/or caregiver support.

Care Solutions

Initiatives to directly support caregiver needs: For example, on-site care, infrastructure for touring, care room, childcare/caregiver fund, childcare for auditions, concurrent/integrated programming.

2b Theatre: Provide childcare and compassionate support for our artists and our audience members during all phases of our work, including development and rehearsal processes, our home performances, and touring.
Two Birds Theatre/Common Boots: Piloting childminding for audiences attending Apocalypse Play or, Bundle of Joy with their children, and a concurrent hour-long activated arts workshop for elementary school age kids based on the themes of the play.
Femmes de Feu: Childcare support for touring and residency artists.
l’eau du bain: Development of a bank of strategies for the integration of children in the context of theatrical production.
Kimberley de Jong: Developing strategies of care to support and empower dance artists for (M)other, the gallery exhibition and performance.
Théâtre Français de Toronto: Child care support; building a pool of resources and a caregiver list for our artists.

Flexible Working Models

Alternative models for production schedules and administrative positions. Other examples: job sharing and long term planning.

Downstage Theatre: Piloting a seven hour day, five day work week for rehearsals of The F Word.
Presentation House: Piloting a flexible, shared-work model for hands-on, site-specific roles.

Compassion Fund

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

Aanmitaagzi: Providing a range of care support for artists.
Aluna Theatre: Piloting a Compassion fund to support self-care for performers, and pre-emptive preparation and advice for audience-facing arts staff, during a culturally specific production of a show in which it is likely that they will be exposed to controversy.
Curtain Razors: Piloting a Compassion Fund for independent artists throughout their 2022-23 offerings.
Lifting as We Climb: Compassion Fund for artists involved in the creation of this project.
Native Earth Performing Arts: Childcare Support for Festival Producers at Weesageechak Begins to Dance 2022.
New Harlem Productions: Providing a range of care support for artists.
Nova Dance: Piloted a compassion fund for the large cast of their production Svāhā in Fall 2022.
Playwright’s Guild of Canada: A Compassion Fund for PGC members who have caregiving responsibilities.  The fund intends to help with financial barriers to completing writing projects during 2023.
Shakespeare in the Ruff: Exploring how to use the compassion fund strategy around their summer 2023 production.
Stratford Festival: Compassion fund offered to contracted artists/arts workers during the 2022 Langham Directors’ Workshop – Directors’ Workshop Presentation.
Théâtre La Seizième: Piloting a Compassion Fund for employees during the 22-23 season.

Models for Presenters

Support for artists and companies: For example, welcome package/resource guide, care room, touring infrastructure, childcare at events/openings

Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts: “Welcome to the Oakville Centre”; development of a welcome package that helps support touring artists’ care needs while working in our community.

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.

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).

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

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

Learn more: Balancing Act’s Steering Committee.

Balancing Act is a proud TAPA COMMUNITY PARTNER.