Memorandum submitted by DanceCity
Response from Janet Archer, Artistic Director,
DanceCity, National Dance Agency, Newcastle upon Tyne, on behalf
of ANDA, the Association of National Dance Agencies, written in
collaboration with Deborah Barnard, Artistic Director, Ludus Dance
Company, (Dance North West) and Jane Greenfield, Artistic Director
Dance 4. ANDA constitutes the following organisations: Birmingham
Dance Exchange, DanceCity, Newcastle, DanceEast, Ipswich, Dance
4, Nottingham, Dance North West, Dance South East, Brighton, London
Contemporary Dance Trust, London, Swindon Dance, Yorkshire Dance,
The National Dance Agencies were established
by the Arts Council in partnership with regional arts funding
agencies and local authorities in the late 80s to develop opportunity
for dance provision to be established at a community, educational
and professional level throughout England. The network has provided
a national dance infrastructure for dance for the first time.
It is however still operating on a relatively fragile resource
base and it is critical that this is strengthened if the network
is to build on its current strengths and service the wide ranging
set of demands that are now presenting themselves to NDAs nationally.
This paper endeavours to respond to the issues
outlined in the call for evidence, published in April 2004. It
comments on the key areas of concern identified for the enquiry,
and offers recommendations in relation to future strategy development
for dance in England.
The following is an email circulation sent out
collectively by the National Dance Agencies in 2003.
"In Europe, exists a country, which provides
a networked support for the development of dance achieving a nation
wide distribution of resources. The `dance hubs' provide a critical,
solid layer of maturity regarding the continued evolution of dance
as a significant contemporaneous art form.
The dance hubs employ 13 artistic leaders/facilitators,
a full-time workforce of 115 people (of which 40% are artistic
posts) and 30 additional part-time posts. Over 300 artists are
contracted on a regular sessional basis to deliver an extensive
community class and professional development programme.
Per annum, on average, 140 community residencies
occur alongside 17,000 community dance activities which, combined,
involve up to 300,000 people in dance.
61 performances are either commissioned or co-commissioned.
182 venues are worked with. Up to 450 performances are presented.
85,000 people see the work. Over 2,600 artists are worked with
in an average year.
The network contributes over 700 professional
development activities for the sector and run two accredited Further
Education programmes. They manage five theatres, 30 dance studios,
five cafe«/bars with three further purpose built dance centres
in development. The hubs act as centres for support, advice, advocacy
and information and house dance resources (LX equipment, hot desks,
dance floors etc), which are available to artists.
The system is non-prescriptive allowing each
individual hub to develop specialisms alongside a programme of
activities informed by common aims. The artistic work covers producing,
presentation, professional development, community and education,
new technologies, experimental work exploring the advancement
of form, national & international promotion and film.
They are recognised as contributing to the social,
educational and cultural economics of the country and attract
a wide migration of artists from around the globe. The dance ecology
as a whole is currently enjoying secondary industry development
with the emergence of new layers of dance service providers creating
an essential arterial system.
The central government investment in the hubs
sees a 4,950,000 euro (£3.3 million) base subsidy achieve
circa a 200% return. The network generates/levers an additional
7,950,000 euro (£5.3 million) for the industry."
(It costs 15 million euro (£10 million)
to build one mile of motorway. The average cost of making a 30
second commercial in the USA is just over £0.5 million.)
The critical point to make is that
this new leverage has only been made possible by the establishment
of a dance economy which is genuinely national. Prior to the establishment
of the National Dance Agencies England's dance economy was largely
rooted in London. Research should be carried out to explore what
increase a greater level of investment in NDAs would bring in
relation to both economic return and artistic endeavour through
the further development of regional partners/investors. Discussion
should take place with ANDA to explore a nationally strategic
approach to increasing the dance economy over the next decade.
The infrastructure of dance and the built environment
Dance has benefited from investment from the
Arts Council's Capital Lottery Scheme and other Capital investment
regionally and locally. A network of venues is beginning to be
established including but not exclusively:
The Place, London; The Laban Centre, London;
Greenwich Dance Centre; Derby Dance Centre; The Pointe, Eastleigh;
Birmingham Dance Exchange; (Dancebase, Edinburgh); Dance East,
Suffolknew scheme in development; DanceCity, Newcastlenew
scheme in development; Phoenix/Northern Ballet Theatre, Leedsnew
scheme in development.
There can be no doubt that this new infrastructure
has benefited dance opportunity on all levels. David Miliband
MP, Minister of State for Schools Standards, spoke recently at
a conference in Newcastle (Creative Futures) on the importance
of educational spaces to learning. Dance has for too long suffered
from having to work in inadequate spaces. ANDA celebrates the
development of new spaces and looks forward to future development
of new purpose built spaces for dance performance and participation.
In order to safeguard future stability
a position needs to be taken in relation to future expansion of
this network by Arts Council England and its partners. This will
give clarity to the sector in relation to scope (or otherwise)
for future development and a clear steer to organisations with
responsibility for maintaining buildings in relation to their
future scope for sustained artistic growth in relation to the
overall competitiveness of the sector as a whole.
Although dance is now recognised as an Olympic
sport, the dance profession generally resists responding to the
sports community in relation to the inclusion of dance within
its portfolio. The reasons for this are rooted within the education
system, where it is generally felt by the dance community that
dance sits better within an arts curriculum, than within the sports
curriculum where it is often sited in schools. PE staff are sometimes
not sensitive to the creative potential within the form, and focus
on the use of dance as a fitness regime to supplement sports studies.
There is no doubt however that as a physical
activity dance can enhance sporting achievement quite considerably.
It develops overall agility, flexibility, movement skills and
teamwork in ways which can complement sport with extremely positive
results. It is an increasingly popular form of study at GCSE/A
Level and can, when taught well, have an extremely positive effect
on lifestyle choices and healthy living. It is also used as a
complementary training means in this country and abroad for many
professional sports including football.
Investigation needs to be carried
out to explore how to refocus dance within the school curriculum
to enable it uniquely to be recognised as both an artform and
a sport by teachers.
Research could be carried out in
relation to how dance could benefit/is benefiting the professional
sports sector, eg football.
How have public investment and policy initiatives
influenced the development of dance as an art form in the UK?
There can be no doubt that the dance economy
had increased substantially over recent years, the NDA statement
outlined above, and Graham Devlin's recent audit of National Dance
Activity, published by the Arts Council in 2003, demonstrates
this growth. ANDA welcomes the influence that has been brought
to bear on cultural agendas recently through the embracing of
social inclusion and educational development within mainstream
arts agendas. This turn in policy has seen a massive uplift in
demand for dance from a wide range of sources, including local
authorities, schools, social services departments and the private
There is a concern however that the demand for
growth in dance outweighs the current core investment in the form.
ANDA believes that if this imbalance is not rectified, then dance
as an artform will suffer. As organisations working reliant on
project income from a multiplicity of sources, all with differing
agendas, we sometimes have to construct projects that don't always
have art at the centre of them. If there was greater freedom and
resources to support "excellent organisations" we would
be able to create more genuine and meaningful projects for communities,
audiences and artists. This is backed up by a growing view that
the UK is currently not producing a substantial number of exciting
and diverse experimental dance artists in the same way that it
managed to achieve throughout the 80s and early 90s. If we are
to return to being respected as a major world player in the dance
field, then we must invest in the process of art creation in a
much more significant fashion.
One analogy that could be made aligns the dance
industry with the pharmaceutical industry. Laboratory experimentation
is critical to ensure the safe and effective development of drugs
to cure the world's illnesses. This is only possible with serious
Similar investment in experimentation is needed
to develop good art, without which the wide scope of projects
delivered by NDAs, are all invalidated. At the same time, this
research needs to be managed, to ensure that it is properly factored
into professional activity in a cohesive and structured way.
ANDA asks for an acknowledgement
in the need to support managed research and development for dance
art and dance artists nationally.
How effective is Arts Council England at developing
policies, deploying investment and implementing policy initiatives?
ANDA welcomes the Arts Council's key policy
to redistribute its cultural framework and to invest in a national
network of dance agencies throughout England. We welcome the support
of Arts Council England on a number of important areas of our
1. The placing of art at the centre of our
agendas to ensure that all people not only experience high quality
work, which they can enjoy and learn from, but also that they
can engage with emotionally, physically and spiritually. Whatever
the context, eg Young people, social inclusion, health etc. Our
main aim is to develop people's creativity and imaginations. NDAs
ensure their international remit feeds into local community and
education work. Eg International companies from Australia, Italy,
America and India have all undertaken teaching based activity
with young people and schools in different inner cities in England.
In 2002 Igneous Dance and Multi Media Company (Australia) worked
with a group of young people from two schools for a week long
residency during which time the young people looked at issues
of disability, difference, personal journeys through dance and
film making. Our aim is to encourage our local communities to
feel challenged and inspired and to question their world around
them. In this sense we are trying to support and develop a global
or creative community.
2. Cultural exchange. NDAs are providing
artists, audiences, venues with the opportunity to see a broad
range of dance and performance work from around the worldwe
bring the global to the local. We actively work across geographical
and cultural boundaries. NDAs aim to broaden everyone's horizons
and demonstrate that multiculturalism is something to celebrate
not denigrate. Eg in 2005 ANDA will tour a Spanish and Estonian
company throughout the UK to venues and communities who have not
experienced dance before.
3. As producers and curators, NDAs have
been encouraged to introduce international artists/companies into
this country and giving them a foothold into touring in the UK.
Eg Dance 4 produced a UK wide tour for French company Jerome Bel
and Austrian company Willi Dorner. Both companies now perform
in the UK independently of D4 and are building their own relationships
with venues, festivals and educational establishments. DanceCity
is supporting Samir Akika, a protege of the world famous Pina
Bausch and Granhoj Dans from Denmark in the same way.
4. The art forms in general are developing
in such a way that cross disciplinary or collaborative work is
becoming more and more the norm. Arts Council policy has supported
this. Artists and artforms are looking to work outside their definitions.
Again NDAs are able to galvanise this through community and professional
work. Encouraging dance and film based projects, gallery or site
specific work, dance/performance and environmental art. Eg Dance
4 commissioned land artist Jim Buchanan to create a labyrinth
installation in a swimming pool in which the public could swim
the pattern and pathways of. It was a "conceptual" event
that become very popular with families and children because it
was very "social". DanceCity has developed a dance/digital
media project, which has created an interactive installation in
a hospital in Middlesbrough, which was designed to develop sensory
skills in under fives with severe learning disabilities.
5. Strategic dance development. Dance Agencies
in some regions are being encouraged to establish a wider dance
infrastructure through developing partnerships with local authorities
to support the development of other independent agencies and expanded
investment in dance. Eg in Tees Valley, DanceCity has established
teesdanceinitiative, based at ARC in Stockton, which employs a
team of eight people working at grass roots level to develop dance
in Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Stockton and Redcar
We welcome the fact that Arts Council
England is working closely with NDAs to ensure a continued expansion
of dance as an artform nationally.
What opportunities and support currently exist
in order to promote the inclusion and progression of young people
It is widely acknowledged that dance participation
in the UK still focuses on young people from the middle classes
with parental support for their chosen progression within dance.
Access to dance is now mainstreamed into our educational and community
provision. What is lacking are basic pathways to ensure that young
people without support can be provided with a route to further
training should they demonstrate that they merit it no matter
what their background or previous experience of dancing. The current
development within the Music and Dance scheme for vocational training
is set up to address this, as is the new National Youth Dance
Agency. It should be acknowledged however that not all young people
want to progress into dance as a career, and routes for young
people who want to dance as a complement to their overall social
and personal development should also not be discounted in developing
new schemes for access and participation. Uniquely amongst art
forms, dance has the ability to progress both creative, social
and physical development at a serious level. It is an emotionally
releasing activity, which is proven to benefit human spiritual
growth through both its value as an activity for individuals and
for groups of people working together. Like anything however,
it does not generate results, if it is not taught well, by professionals
who are in contact with their own artistic practice at the highest
All young people should have access
to dance, particularly those from disadvantaged social backgrounds.
Dance should only be taught by experienced
qualified professionals in contact with current artform thinking
relevant to the sector as a whole.
What is the role of dance within education at
present? Should this change in the future?
Yes, this paper is centred on the need to review
investment. There is no question that dance participation, both
as a spectator and as a dancer enhance bodily awareness and a
greater sense and motivation to increase fitness levels. Dance
participation is now available nationally and could be developed
to provide everyone with an alternative and holistic means of
keeping physically and psychologically fit whilst at the same
time enjoying a social activity which is part of our popular culture,
amongst young and old alike.