In 2015, I started working on a project about designers in League of Resident Theatres (LORT) because I wanted to know who gets hired to design in US regional theatres. Phase two of the LORT designers study continues to collect data on gender of designers, and begins to look at directors and artistic directors, partially in relation to designers. In continuing the work of the study, I hope to establish a baseline and foster a conversation for where we hope to be in the future. Collection and confirmation methods remained the same: In cases where theatres run their seasons yearly, the 2013 season was combined with the 2012–13 season for statistical purposes, and so forth. Only lead designers, no assistants or associates, were counted. In cases where multiple designers worked as co-designers, they each got partial credit. For example, Joe and Jane were the co-scenic designers of a production, so they each received 0.5 in the designer counting.

Many people have asked me to also examine religious affiliations, sexual orientations, and annual incomes, among other things, but these are all data that I feel has to be self-identified in order to have any validity. Though I completely believe that gender and race have intersecting effects, I still haven’t figured out a way to study race/ethnicity, so I did not include it. Some have suggested that I guess, by names or photos if I can find them, but as a woman of color with the last name “McGovern” and a habit of avoiding photos like the plague, I know that that simply won’t work.

I also wish that this study didn’t support the stereotypical gender binary, and that there was a way for me to identify trans*/gender fluid/gender nonconforming/agender designers in another category, but unfortunately that was not possible at this time.

Who Designs in LORT Theatres by Gender: Positions & people pie chart

This year’s phase is different in a few ways from last year’s. I took certain suggestions from the comment section of the previous article and private emails. All data, not just confirmed, is included in the charts and graphs.

I also looked at directors and artistic directors, partially to see if there was any correlation to designers. After phase one, several people wrote to say that once there was more gender parity amongst directors and artistic directors, this would achieve greater gender parity in the design fields.  I decided to look at the hard data to see if that was currently the trend. I can’t say strongly enough that correlation does not imply causation.

who designs in lort theatres by gender: averages

who designs and directs in lort theaters by gender: correlations between director and designers

who designs in lort theaters by gender: correlation between artistic director and designer pie chart

who are artistic directors in lort theaters by gender: seasons, production, and people pie charts

who directs in lort theaters by gender: positions and people, averages, and prolificity


who directs in lort theaters by gender: correlations between artistic director and director

Some theatres who responded last year didn’t respond this year, and vice versa, so confirmation percentages are different between designers and directors/artistic directors. In eliminating the earlier years of the study, I had enough data to look at projection/video designers, but it’s still a much smaller number than the other design disciplines.

I also studied the differences between the four regions of the country (as defined by the Census Bureau).

who designs in lort theaters by gender: regions

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I researched how the different categories of theatres correlated with percentages of designers and directors.

who designs in lort theaters by gender: categories

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who directs in lort theaters by gender: regions and categories bar chart

In addition, I figured out how many productions the most prolific designers and directors work on, in comparison to the rest of the field.

who designs in lort theaters by gender: prolificity bar graph

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Of the then-seventy two theatres, fifty-seven responded with confirmation of 1253 of the 1587 productions. All the graphs are based on both confirmed and unconfirmed information. Designer data is 85.8 percent confirmed, while director and artistic director data is 79 percent confirmed. In the case of one theatre, the “head” of the theatre is an executive director rather than an artistic director, so that’s the information I used for the statistics.

If you work at one of these theatres and would like your specific statistics, or would like to confirm information for future phases of this study, please write me at from your institutional email, and I’ll happily send them to you. Please allow forty-eight hours for a response.