The Level UP! Initiative 2023-24

Entering its third and final year of the initiative, Balancing Act’s Level UP! 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.

The Strategy Consultant for the Level UP! project is Jeanne LeSage, LeSage Arts Management and Project Evaluation is by Good Roots Consulting, led by Meredith Davis and Rebecca Thomas Kahn.

Balancing Act thanks our Community Partners TAPA and PACT!

Discover more about our Level UP! Strategy Partners! Click HERE for more information about our inaugural cohort from 2021-22. To learn about our 2022-23 cohort click HERE.

Now in our third year of the project, we welcome our

2023-24 Level UP! Partners and their 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.

bcurrent Performing Arts | Building a care program that supports healthier rehearsal and performance spaces. Integral to this program will be creating ways to artists to request support during rehearsal and show runs (including caregiver support needs).
Company 605 | Building a company-specific framework around the access of compassion funds and the creation of care policies and wrap-around support.
Convergence Theatre | Case Study: Actors and parents collaborating with agents and other stakeholders toward pathways for negotiating caregiver support.
Corpus | Developing a policy / framework to support the caregiving needs of our team members.
Eastern Front Theatre | Developing core policies (around care schedules and accessibility needs) that can be applied not only to staff but contractors as well.
Halifax Fringe Festival – Wrap-around care and accessibility support.
Making Treaty 4 Collective (MT4) in partnership with Curtain Razors (CR) | Among other explorations, creating and documenting (e.g oratory, written and/or ceremonial) culturally relevant and safe policies and protocols that will guide the organization.
Necessary Angel Theatre Company | Providing support to employees or the core artists that work with NA over this season through additional funding for support of care for themselves or as a caregiver to accomodate work.
Savage Society | Formalize a “Promise to Care” fund, both financially and within HR policy.
Soundstreams | A return-to-work plan for a staff person who was returning from maternity leave starting at full time with less responsibilities and moving back into the full time position that they held by the end of a one year time period.
Studio 180 Theatre | Create a framework of care and a new model that codifies a flexible working model for employees to be developed alongside a new strategic plan, supporting our commitment to being an artist-run company that supports the unique needs of caregivers.
The Swallow a Bicycle Theatre Society | Our organisation would like to create a “philosophy of care” that would ground how we implement care in each process we embark on, regardless of scale, resources and capacity.
Tarragon Theatre | To put in place the necessary policies and systems to implement an equitable recognition of caregiving requirements when in contract negotiations.
Theatre Action | Carrying out a consultation process with the entire Franco-Ontarian theatre community on the reality of parents and caregivers who work within the sector.

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.

Artscape GibraltarArtscape Gibraltar Point | Creating a resource manual/welcome package inclusive of caregiver needs.
Canadian Stage | Actively exploring various avenues for the potential implementation of childcare services during a Universal Child Care (UCC) matinee scheduled for February 2024. A primary objective of this pilot initiative is to establish a sustainable and financially viable approach.
DanceWorks | This program will support covering costs for an out-of-town artist and mother who requires special support. The model can than be used as a template for DanceWorks that can be used in future while engaging with Artists with care giving responsibilities.
DAPACDance Artist Parents Action Collective (DAPAC) Project Name – A gathering of professional dance artists and their families with the intention of creating space for the artists involved to connect and focus on their art, located on Six Nations of the Grand River territory.
Gwaandak Theatre | We are hoping to establish a formalized compassion/childcare fund, formalize how we articulate what this is and how it benefits contractors for our funders, figure out how to best promote the options we have available to support caregivers in our job postings, and seek feedback from the caregivers we work with to establish how funds could be allocated/accessed to best support their participation in our programming.
The Musical Stage Company | Piloting an on-site care program, including PSW’s and a fund for ad hoc care for our spring 2024 New Works Festival.
O.Dela Arts Society | Exploring caregiver support on tour and the possibility of a database of caregivers.
Open Heart Arts Theatre | In tandem with L’Arche core members: 1) creating community care documents, 2) discovering what a Care Coordinator position would look like in our organisation, 3) creating a half day of wellness activities for care providers.
Opéra Queens | Implementing a compassion fund for our artists, as a number are parents or are caregiving for recent illnesses of close ones. As well, we are interested in learning and continuing to develop more flexible hours and schedules while also caring for our central administrative team in balance.
SummerWorks | We are establishing a childcare fund specifically to support the professional development and leadership transition for new Managing Director Morgan Norwich.
Urbanvessel Performing Arts | We are planning to offer childcare support for artist participants in our Bubble Life project.

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.

Bad Dog Theatre | Childcare support and adjusted call times for “flagship” show performers.
Chromatic Theatre | Explore provisions around maternity leave for part-time staff member.
Dancing Hands Theatre and 258signs Production | Nothing sent
Imago Theatre | Imago would like to pilot a Compassion Fund and Flexible Working Models for our winter production of The Flood and our season-long new work residency Nested Circles. Both projects involve Indigenous artists who require childcare to help facilitate their presence and ability to participate. We would also like to integrate an Indigenous artist with a specialization in trauma. The Compassion Fund would allow us to fold that supporting artist into the process with the director, and hold space for any trauma that arises in the process with care.
Lemontree Creations | We are offering a Compassion Fund to our creative team as an acknowledgment of the violence and specifically the sexual violence in the script. These are challenging topics to choose to work in for weeks at a time and we are grateful to be able to support our team in seeking relief.
Mocean Dance | We have a new research project coming up in winter/spring of this season, working with two Mi’kmaq artists as creative leads, poet and playwright shalan joudry, and dance artist Sarah Prosper. We want to pilot a Compassion Fund for this project specifically, to address barriers to participation such as childcare/caregiving costs. That said we are also interested in widening the use of this fund to cover general accessibility barriers including, and beyond caregiving considerations.

ad hoc collective stewarding production of new work called “Modeling”
| Developing a Compassion Fund to support our convening this season and the labour of pitching and setting up connections with more funders and collective contributors.
rice and beans Theatre Society | Over the season, we will pilot a compassion fund that is available for all artists, so that support is available for childcare, transportation, physiotherapy, etc.
Soulpepper Theatre Company | Offering an equal access Wellbeing Fund to all artists working on Soulpepper-produced productions and workshop.
The Theatre Centre | Piloting a Compassion Fund to support emergent caregiving needs.
Theatre Passe Muraille | Piloting a Compassion Fund that would be widely available to our artists and cover access and caregiving needs that may come up during our rehearsals and production periods.

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.