A major new report released today and funded in part by Telefilm Canada has revealed a decline in the pre-pandemic progress towards parity of representation of women in front of and behind the camera.
Among the headline findings of the 2023 Women in View On Screen Report (WIVOS23) are that Black women have the least representation across all key creative roles, led the fewest projects, and received the least funding overall and on average for projects.
The study also found that Indigenous women and gender diverse creators have experienced losses in share of work in television while making small gains in film.
In addition women and gender diverse people were employed 20-30% less often in documentary TV than in drama; women and gender diverse TV writers received less work in 2019-20 and 2020-21 compared to pre-pandemic 2018-19; and women and gender diverse cinematographers in television continue to get the smallest share of work of all creative roles, dropping to 6% in 2019-20 and 10% in 2020-21 compared to 17% in 2018-19.
WIVOS23 authors covered 653 English-language film development projects and 127 English-language film production projects that received Telefilm Canada funding in 2019-20 and 2020-21, as well as 234 English-language TV projects funded by Canada Media Fund for production in 2019-20 and 2020-21.
All films produced by Black women were funded at the bottom two funding levels – Talent to Watch and Under $500K. On average, projects led by Black women received 59% less investment than those led by creatives of other identities.
Black women’s total share of key creative work in English-language television amounted to 2%, and no Black woman was a showrunner in 2019-20 or 2020-21.
Black women producers accounted for 2% of producing credits compared to 46% for all gender diverse women, 1% share of investment compared to 33%, and average investment per project of C$155,000 compared to C$390,000.
In English-language film, women and gender diverse creatives comprised 43% of the share of work in film production and development over the report period and 42% of the investment, totalling C$67.8m.
The 2020 and 2021 funding cycles showed a “dramatic change in the overall investment and number of projects produced ” compared to the 2018-19 period.
The report said: “The COVID-19 pandemic, during which province-wide lockdowns and public restrictions brought the Canadian industry to a standstill, makes the decreased volume of production unsurprising. The proportional losses suffered by gender diverse creators are still relevant and suggest that they bore the brunt the losses that the sector faced. Funding also dropped for gender diverse producers from 48% of the total investment in 2018-19 to 42% in 2019-20 and 2020-21 combined.
However men’s share of investment climbed from 52% in 2018-19 to 58% in 2019-20 and 2020-21. “It is clear from these findings that for men,” the report said, “the ‘pandemic impacts’ were not only tempered, but in some cases meant benefitting from the losses experienced by gender diverse producers.”
Sharon McGowan, chair of Women in View, said: “These findings suggest that the hard-earned progress that began to pick up speed in
, is fragile and that more sustainable infrastructure is required to ensure that parity – and importantly, equity – gains withstand external market pressures.”[2018-19]Women in View, a non-profit dedicated to strengthening gender representation and diversity in Canadian media both on screen and behind the scenes, plans to start a public dialogue with industry partners over the coming months.
Major funders for the report were the Canada Media Fund, Telefilm Canada and the Inspirit Foundation.
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