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American Conservatory Theater to Host Women's Leadership Conference August 22, 2016

American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) Artistic Director Carey Perloff announced today that the Women's Leadership Conferencewill be held on Monday, August 22 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. at A.C.T.'s Strand Theater. The Conference emerged from a partnership with Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW), one of the largest gender-focused research-and-action organizations in the world, and will speak to the practices of the workplace in relation to women employees and leadership.

The Women's Leadership Conference commences with a networking breakfast at 9:30 a.m., immediately followed by a presentation of research focused on gender equity in leadership opportunities in the nonprofit American theater. After a panel response, the audience will be invited to discuss the study and ask questions of the researchers, the panelists, and the room at large. This morning session of the conference will be open to the general public and will end at 12 p.m., with a small group of women leaders from across the country reconvening from 1-5 p.m. for learning-based workshops on topics and themes inspired by the research discoveries.

Originally started in 2013, the Women's Leadership in Residential Theaters research study-commissioned by Perloff and former A.C.T. Executive Director Ellen Richard, and conducted by WCW Senior Scholar Sumru Erkut, and WCW Research AssociateIneke Ceder-sought to identify why there were so few women in leadership roles in the nonprofit American theater. Using the theater field as a starting point, the project explored what can be done to increase the participation of women at the higher reaches of the arts in America. The purpose of the project is to provide real data about female leaders and a clearer understanding of career development.

Says Perloff: "At a time when the political and tech worlds are wrestling with the issues of gender disparity, it is crucial that we in the theater industry try to understand why women are still so underrepresented in leadership positions at major theaters across America. While the Bay Area has been a beacon for female leaders, we have been anxious to undertake some deeper research about gender disparity in theater leadership overall, and to understand what can be done to ameliorate it. Partnering with the amazing researchers at the Wellesley Centers for Women has been an inspiration, and we are extremely excited to share the results of their study at our convening on August 22."

The Women's Leadership Conference hopes to create a multi-generational and multi-racial room of people to discuss the research study and issues that matter in the field of theater.

Scheduled panelists include:
· Shafer Mazow, Senior Grants Manager, Exploratorium
· Carey Perloff, Artistic Director, American Conservatory Theater
· Michele Shay, Independent actress, director, and producer
· Seema Sueko, Deputy Artistic Director, Arena Stage

Scheduled learning-based workshop leaders include:
· Nina Ball, freelance scenic designer
· Susie Falk, Managing Director, California Shakespeare Theater
· Rachel Fink, Managing Director, Theatre Bay Area
· Dr. Omi Osun Joni L. Jones, professor at The University of Texas at Austin, artist
· Rhodessa Jones, Co-Artistic Director, Cultural Odyssey
· Julie Phelps, Artistic Director, CounterPulse
· Martha Richards, Executive Director, WomenArts

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