113: Empowering Parent Artists with Chicago rep Lydia Milman Schmidt

If you aren’t already familiar with PAAL, I’d like to bring that organization to your attention, particularly if you are a parent-artist or caregiver. 


PAAL is a national community, resource hub, and solutions generator for individuals with caregiver responsibilities and institutions who strive to support them. 

PAAL is offering an online series for workplace and connection as well as a series of Broadway master classes and storytimes for you and your kids! Proceeds support the artists and the PAAL COVID Emergency Relief Fund. 

Since the beginning of this year, I’ve had the opportunity to speak with several of the PAAL chief reps from across the country.  In this episode I’m speaking with Lydia Milman Schmidt.

Lydia is the founder of Parents in Chicago Theatre and Chicago Chief Rep for the Parent Artist Advocacy League. She is a theatre director and educator in Chicago and teaches middle school drama at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools and is a teaching artist with Chicago Children’s Theatre. Lydia earned an MFA in Theatre Directing from East 15 Acting School in London. 

Lydia Milman Schmidt

Our conversation took place on March 17, 2020 so we do talk about COVID 19 and the effect on parent artists and caregivers. Lydia discusses PAAL,  the formation of Parents in Chicago Theatre and 2 of the reports that PICT published. The first report was released in 2017, titled Barriers to Work for Parents in Chicago Theatre, which investigated the effect of parenthood on the careers of a wide variety of Chicago theatre artists. The second report, published in 2019, was titled Lost Voices of Chicago Theatre and focused on the parents for whom the barriers to participation were insurmountable, and what the Chicago theatre industry has lost in terms of education and experience.

Please also see the recent issue of American Theatre magazine, which includes a series of articles under the heading Care for the Caregivers that was undertaken with the support and insight of the Parent Artist Advocacy League.

The feature article in this series, written by Rachel Spencer Hewitt, the founder of PAAL is titled: Work/Life Balance Is Everyone’s Urgent Business Now. She writes, “As we face the COVID crisis, our field has a chance to restructure itself around human needs. Caregivers can lead the way.”

ASBX Interviews with PAAL reps:

  • Parent Artist Advocacy League Emergency Fund apply
  • Parent Artist Advocacy League Emergency Fund donate


This episode is brought to you by the Soapboxers, the official patrons of the Artist Soapbox. If you like these episodes and want more, get on the Soapbox!  This episode was recorded at the ASBX home studio. Artist Soapbox theme music by Bart Matthews. 

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