Funding of the arts and heritage

Written evidence submitted by Dance Digital (arts 156)

About Us:

The future is digital and DanceDigital works to develop technological literacy of dance professionals, artists, educators, students, pupils and community members. With digital culture as an intrinsic part of the everyday, digital literacy is essential to full civic participation and to the development of new services and businesses. We develop technological expertise that advances dance as an art form and use the art form of dance to develop technological literacy applicable across a broad range of learning and professional contexts. Our work has inter-disciplinary impact and aims to catalyze community cohesion, creativity and development. Our work reaches artists, scientists, computer programmers, software developers, students, teachers and community groups.

DanceDigital is passionate about Dance and Technology. It has been exploring this area for a number of years and has links with major exponents of this genre. For us, Dance and Technology is the use of technological means to express an artistic vision, to communicate new ideas to a wider audience and to share and disseminate activity. This may be through performance (traditional or non-traditional spaces), web-based activity, discussion, ongoing support and advocacy. We will be building on existing and developing new links to further explore this exciting and revealing area of work, one in which new ideas, pathways and new initiatives can be formed. DanceDigital is working closely with our funders to best disseminate Dance and Technology practice and with venues throughout the Eastern region, nationally and internationally. We work as a company for innovation in the creation of new choreographies, facilitating artists in their exploration, developing audiences, building new partnerships and pushing forward the Dance and Technology sector through risk-taking, adventurous and creative practice. We work internationally to drive forward the sector, with a particular focus on developing artists in the Eastern Region and England. This involves artist exchanges, performances and symposia.

Through our ambitious programmes of work, DanceDigital aims to be at the leading edge of Dance and Technology developments, serve our communities and enhance literacy in technology, movement and the arts.

DanceDigital has a team of three full-time staff and four part-time staff.

Funding Context:

- Dance Digital is the trading name of Essex Regional Dance Council, a regularly funded Arts Council Organisation (RFO), with service level agreements with Essex County Council, Chelmsford Borough Council and a tender with Hertfordshire County Council for provision of dance development in community and schools.

- Core funding comprises nearly 60% of total income. Our core funding consists of 50% Arts Council, 25% from Essex County Council, 12.5% from Chelmsford Borough Council, 12.5% from Hertfordshire County Council (tender).

- Additional income is project designated and comprises approximately 30% of the organisation’s income. Current project funders are Arts Council England, Essex County Council, Chelmsford Borough Council, Youth Dance England East, Southend on Sea Borough Council, Technology Strategy Board.

- Sponsorship income is given to us from M and G and comprises less than 1% of our total income. At present we do not have sufficiently developed relationships with private donors to sustain the organization and these relationships will take time to build.

- Our earned income from classes, workshops, studio hires, equipment hires and investment income makes up 10% of our overall income.

How funding supports the work that we do:

- The funding structure enables us to commission and work with professional artists and support the development of digital dance practice nationally (Arts Council England Funding)

- We work with professionals to engage the public through performances, community and education programmes and specific programmes for disadvantaged communities, in the counties of Essex and Hertfordshire. Our education and community work is made possible through local authority funding but the high quality of artistic work that informs the work is made possible through the funding of Arts Council England and Essex County Council.

- Our funding model integrates local, regional and national needs for development of dance as an art-form, with a particular focus on new technology and innovation. This integration facilitates dialogue between local, regional and national communities at all levels of expertise and engagement.

- Our funding currently supports a studio that serves as incubator and development space for professional artists whose work benefits the region. We have supported the creation of new work that has gone on to tour nationally and internationally. The studio also houses our youth and community programmes that engage the broadest range of people in the community.

Further information:

DanceDigital’s Essex office is based in the centre of Chelmsford, a couple of minutes walk from the town centre and the railway station. It has recently moved into this new office, which is fit for purpose and fully accessible.

Dance Digital in Hertfordshire is currently based in the same office in Chelmsford, to which it has recently moved.

DanceDigital is committed to developing the area of Dance and Technology. We work with artists who are interested and/ or specialised in the dance and new technology/ new media field to enable further experimentation, exploration and risk-taking. We provide support, bursaries and commissions to artists. Projects are artist-driven with the overarching brief of exploration and experimentation, with a regional, national and international outlook.

We attempt to work with innovative and inspiring artists. We define innovation as work, which confounds expectation, changes the way people think or behave and opens up new possibilities and opportunity. Innovative ideas and products have the potential to change our entire landscape and provide benchmarks to measure other work against.

Our work is divided into two areas with significant crossover between the two. The Artistic strand deals with professional artists and companies, whilst the Learning strand deals with schools, young people and community work.

DanceDigital work with people from across all sectors, ages, abilities and skill-level; young people, communities, in education and with professional artists and companies. The people of Essex and Hertfordshire benefit from having a hub for high quality dance work in their county, bringing high quality professional artists and companies to Essex, Hertfordshire and the Eastern region, excellent teachers to schools and for communities and providing a unique opportunity to share work, information, experiences and to perform.

Testimonials

RE: Springblast:

1.     Jean says:

18/03/2010 at 2:04 pm

Brilliant show with a high energy buzz throughout. Great support from all groups, and I can only agree with Lucy’s comments above. Abundant talent and professionalism from performers, teachers and Dance Digital Staff. Lets have more soon. Thank you for having us. Dance 21

2.     Stephen says:

18/03/2010 at 8:41 pm

Came to Spring Blast. Amazing acts, really high quality. Great to see so many young lads performing to such a high standard. A greater variety of styles would be good.

Really enjoyed the performance – what a lot of skilled dancers/teachers you have!

3.     Shamiso says:

19/03/2010 at 2:13 pm

I performed as part of FOCUS at SpringBlast, it was great to see what other young people in the county have created, and i was surprised and encouraged by the diversity. I think there should be more opportunities for dancers in Essex to interact creatively like this.

Re: Big Dance, Herts

Sarah Talks says:

12/07/2010 at 10:21 pm

Big Dance Hertfordshire in Watford was really great. My son was part of two groups, each requiring different dance styles. The one off piece created for the Big Dance took him out of his comfort zone, but with the excellent teaching from Curtis James and support from DanceDigital the whole group performed really well. The project brought together boys from very different backgrounds and was a real opportunity.
The progression from tiny tots, young children, teenagers right up to the explosive ZooNation performance was very exciting to see.


Re: The Rain Parade, Commission by Herts Associate Artists LostDog

Nigel Brook, Chairman of Hertfordshire County Council says:

05/05/09

It is not often one has the opportunity of attending a world premier but you gave it to us last week, for which many thanks. We found the whole concept very interesting and the dancing was truly outstanding.

We wish you and your colleagues every success with the venture and your future activities.


Re: FOCUS YDC performing in a local charity event

Councillor Nicolette Chambers, Mayor 2007/08 says:

20/05/08

Thank you so much for your performance at the community showcase last Sunday. The show was just wonderful and the hard work and dedication from the team and volunteers paid off. The money raised from this event will go a long way to the charities, CHESS and YMCA and we are all truly grateful.

Re: Cultural Dance Day in a Primary School

Zhora Dadd, school teacher says:

05/09/09

The Chinese dancing was fantastic and a breath of fresh air. Faye was lovely and everybody enjoyed it.  In fact even the parents’ haven’t stopped talking about it as the children were so excited that they did nothing else but talk about it at home. 

Re: Integrated Dance Project bring together Secondary and Special Education Schools

Teacher from a Special Education School says:

February 09

We had a wonderful day thanks to Louise, Frank and Sue, and as a school learnt about how relevant dance was for our curriculum as well as the opportunities presented to do something physical and creative with children from a mainstream primary. The day workshop provided a great way to break down barriers and build relationships between two groups of children. A great day and very special. Thanks again.

Teacher from a Secondary School says:

February 09

This was a fantastic opportunity to work with special children. Excellent effort was made, our students became progressively more confident and creative. What a wonderful experience. Thank you.

September 2010