Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Written Evidence

Memorandum submitted by DV8 Physical Theatre Ltd.

  DV8 Physical Theatre is a contemporary dance company in receipt of regular funding from Arts Council England. The Company aims to break down the barriers between dance, theatre and personal politics and to communicate ideas clearly and unpretentiously.

  Under the artistic direction of Lloyd Newson, the Company has toured 13 highly-acclaimed productions internationally and made three films for television: Dead Dreams of Monochrome Men (LWT), Strange Fish (BBC), and Enter Achilles (BBC). Among the many awards the company has won are two Prix Italia and an International Emmy.

  DV8 represents a huge success story for the UK dance industry. The Company has secured a massive international following, and its stage and screen productions have helped to place contemporary dance on the UK's cultural and academic agenda. All of DV8's films have featured on GCSE, A Level and degree/diploma syllabuses for Dance and Performing Arts, and the Company web site is a key educational resource for students, teachers and members of the public. DV8's performances are extremely well-attended by under 25s in the UK, drawing in the dance theatre audience and practitioners of the future.

  However, this success has been extremely hard-won within the current climate of arts funding, and has placed a huge strain on DV8's artists and administrators. In order to meet the demand for its work the Company has had to raise ever-increasing amounts of additional funding, causing company members to deplete their energies and resources with fundraising, when that energy should be used to create innovative new work.


  DV8's Artistic Director Lloyd Newson had previously been commissioned by the Sydney Olympic Committee to create a new dance production for their Olympic Festival. This show, the cost of living, was a spectacular, thought-provoking work on the themes of perfection and pretence. It featured a range of performers: ballet and contemporary dancers, circus artists, those with "perfect" bodies and those whom society deemed to be physically imperfect.

  This artistic creation was so powerful that that it was able to cross media and artform boundaries and transfer from the stage, to art gallery, to television. In 2003 the Company was commissioned to produce three separate works, based on the original production of the cost of living.

  The cost of living, a large-scale theatre production which was commissioned by major festivals in the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, and France, and toured to eight countries. Over 27,500 people attended this sell-out production, including over 8,000 people in England alone.

    —  The Company had to raise £270,000 in foreign investment in order to realise this project.

  Living Costs, a site-specific multi-media event commissioned by the Tate Modern as part of the Tate & Egg Live series of works aimed at encouraging new audiences to visit the Tate. The twenty performances sold out very quickly, attracting a total audience of 3,675.

    —  The Company had to raise £98,000 in commission fees, box office and grant funding in order to realise this project.

  The Cost of Living, a dance film commissioned by Channel 4 Television. Work on the film has just been completed, and Channel 4 plan to premiere it as part of their Autumn season. There has been great interest in the film from foreign distributors and international film festivals.

    —  The Company had to raise £250,000 in commission fees to realise this project.

  These commissions raised the profile of DV8, and of dance as a whole, building new audiences and broadening dance's cultural appeal.

  In addition in 2003, the company produced a short research and development project that has led directly into the development and rehearsal of a new full-length touring piece for the company in 2004. A UK, European and Asian tour of this piece is currently being booked for 2005.

  These four successful projects were created, managed and produced by a core staff of:

    —  One Artistic Director;

    —  One General Manager; and

    —  One Administrator.

and employed the paid services of 100 people directly, and 14 talented volunteer performers.

  In order for companies like DV8 fully to exploit and build upon its current success, we would like the Committee to consider the following areas for increased investment in the dance sector:

    —  Core funding for revenue-funded companies;

    —  Pay levels for artists and managers, to enable the sector to nurture and retain talent;

    —  Recognition and funding for UK-based companies who have acquired an international reputation for excellence and perform world-wide; and

    —  Recognition and funding for cross art form and media initiatives, including dance on film and dance in non-traditional spaces.

30 April 2004

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