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Laura AbramsenDo you see that oil painting hanging on the gallery wall? Who painted that? Picture the last live theatre performance you went to. How many women were on stage? Were any in a lead role? What about music? Go back in time to when you were little and just started to fall in love with music. Were there women artists who inspired you?



In the past, women have faced challenges getting into the arts, but that is changing.


Laura Abramsen, a fourth year theatre major at the University of Regina, said she became involved in theatre in high school when all her friends were in rehearsals. That love of acting carried on until, when she was in her first year of social work at the University of Saskatchewan, she realized she couldn’t ignore her desire for the stage any longer.


But it wasn’t always an easy path. Because Regina is such a small community compared to her hometown of Ottawa, actors are constantly up against each other, she said.


“Since there are such limited roles for the arts and acting specifically, sometimes you have to take what you get,” she said.


This reflects on the challenges women face specifically. Since males often get the lead role, they make more money than their female counterparts, who don’t often get that chance.


“Regina specifically is interesting because, with the exception of a few films (I’ve worked on), getting paid at all is a treat,” said Abramsen.


This isn’t to say Regina’s female actors are out of luck.


“It’s so much easier and better to work here because it's so small. You get to know so many people…Even though we got the (film) credit taken away there are so many opportunities that tend to get downplayed,” Abramsen said.


Award shows, like the Oscars, are a common way to judge talent in the industry, but how does it impact female actors? Abramsen said she sees them as judging talent, but sometimes also a popularity contest.


Very trendy, stylistic actors “have a flash in the pan but no real range in their abilities. That's the kind of thing that wins awards."


Art fields like visual arts don’t have big-time award shows, but they still have their heroes.


Haley Gartner, a fourth year visual arts major specializing in oil painting, became intrigued with art through her father, who is also an oil painter.


“(Art) challenges me every day which is something that really appeals to me,” said Gartner.


For women, “it’s easier to get your voice out when you’re doing art. You reach a broader group of people."


In terms of the U of R, Gartner said she feels both men and women artists are on equal footing.


Musician Melanie Hankewich, who goes by the stage name Belle Plaine, agrees with Gartner. She said she doesn’t feel there is a disparity or difference between male and female musicians.


“There might be parts of the industry that sexualize females and maybe shifts the importance from the talent and drive and self-management that it makes to be a musician, but for me what's the most important is the acceptance from my peers, whether they are male or female," she said.


Hankewich said she has refrained from putting the gender lens on since she began her full-time music career in 2010. The community of artists she keeps to doesn’t care if the performer is a male or female, so long as they are good, she noted.


“People who see (gender) as a difference I have no interest in working with,” Hankewich said.