Questions Questions – A Comprehensive List From The Northern Area Dance Meeting

As part of the morning’s breakout sessions, the attendees compiled lists of questions that they felt were pertinent to the dance sector in the north, and from those four key questions were pulled for the afternoon discussion:

  • A – what are the mechanisms for bringing independent artists and small organisations together and keeping them together and linking their voice into the sector
  • B – what are the best models of support for the development of dance in the region?
  • C – what should the next practical steps be following this meeting, towards a wider northern network?
  • D – what would the northern cultural offer look like?

But those weren’t the only questions, so here are all the others that were raised, for you to discuss, answer, or just be aware of if you’re thinking about what happens for dance in the north from here on in - please feel free to post any responses to these in the comments below – they will become part of the outcome from the day, and feed into the ongoing development of ideas:

How do we break down assumptions from London that work “from the provinces” is of a lesser quality?

How can we stop repeating ourselves?

Dance is a community art form – how can we protect the spaces for the making of art? Are there enough? Rehearsal space vs spaces for participation – is there a conflict? There is only one dedicated dance space in the North East.

How do we support all different styles of dance? Not just contemporary and ballet versus commercial – there is a lot more.

Charlotte Vincent said support for fewer artists but funded better – where does that leave the independent dance sector?

What are the key / crucial / most juicy initiatives / mechanisms that will ensure greater artist buy-in and leadership in solving / addressing some of the issues raised today?

Could we have an independent ‘dance in the North’ version of londondance.com? A portal for networking, communicating, promoting opportunities / events / performances – for both artists and current/potential audiences / participants. A very practical solution to communication across a vast region.

Communication – would an enlarged ‘Northern’ region help us build profile?

We’re talking about a northern DANCE ecology – I think it’s important to think about dance and theatre and music and arts – because a richer community could come from collaborations across art forms and I feel less isolated when surrounded by dancers, yes, but also actors, writers, musicians… I want to live near people, and know people, who are artists – not just dancers. Also, a rich artistic community is what attracts people to an area and it is visible. Networking happens naturally in a more relaxed, sociable setting – do we need that kind of event as well as this?

Can we become a magnet to draw people from outside to us instead of always having to go out and bang on other peoples’ doors?

Critical mass is crucial. Connecting more across this larger region means we can make matches with artists who share practice, between supporters (voices), agencies and artists with interests that match. Current structures actively inhibit this, platforms and funding opportunities are specifically for artists from a particular region.

How to you make an isolated dance artists feel valued and included?

How can we raise awareness of the talent and work already in the North, connect it up in to pathways and beacons and strengthen from within in order to stand together with our own identities but knowledge of jow we all fit as part of a thriving ecology?

What is special about the geography of the North and how does that affect the aesthetic and cultural identity of Northern dance? – We have the most outstanding countryside in England – does this matter? What is the place of rural experience in dance of the North?

Is the artist the most important factor in the dance ecology?

What is the artistic voice of the North? How can we define and develop it? Use each others’ expertise / bring in experts to the region?

If we had to build it from scratch, what would we build? What would our dream ecology look like? Who’s doing what and where? What is the rest of the world saying about the North?

How will leaders come forward without it being confined to just a few established organisations?

Who is it – dance / the work – for? is it useful to think about it as movement rather than dance? Does the aesthetic / practice / challenge / identity change the further you get from London (e.g. is it less pronounced in the South East / West Midlands)?

In this day and age is it right and air that artists earn such low incomes, live almost in poverty with no sense of security or wellbeing?

Does dance matter? In comparison to what? Do we, in the current climate, have to ask this? Do we have a wider responsibility to society?

Training and development for aspiring, emerging artists – who is responsible for creating these opportunities and taking a lead on it?

How can artists combat the place of assumption of skills and ability of execution of ideas?

Why am I in debt? Can anyone really shine a light on the current financial situation at ACE and highlight the core priorities?

How do we sustain dance in the North? Eg how do we get our dancers to stay and encourage dancers in the South to come and work in the North of England? The South seems to be saturated with opportunities for dancers, which appears to be the reason why they go there – how can we offer such opportunities?

Is there a value to be had from independent producers within the dance world? If yes, how can links be improved between individual artists trying to tour or make new work?

What is the role now for the dance agencies? Are they now independent organisations ot should they all have a set of responsibilities towards the dance community? If yes – what mechanisms will ensure the agencies reflect the needs of the region? Should those responsibilities be common to all agencies? E.g. providing platforms for emerging and established dancers, producing (e.g. advertising and events) and training.

What constitutes ‘dance’? How can we include those artists who feel shafted and on the periphery?

As a self sustaining artist, the basic requirement for me to continue to nurture and grow my work is SPACE – why is this the hardest commodity to attain?

Why are non-contemporary / people that aren’t connected to Arts Council not present? Were they invited? Do you see them as part of your perceived dance ecology?

People should tar the ethos if you want it to happen – make it happen. Do you agree?

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