Merger Body Success For Dance

A Life In DanceIn March it was announced that Arts Council England has awarded a major grant for a new strategic dance body. The three year commissioned grant for a ground-breaking consortium will bring four leading dance organisations together to create a unified “go-to” industry body: Association of Dance of the African Diaspora (ADAD), Dance UK, National Dance Teachers Association (NDTA) and Youth Dance England (YDE).

This radical transformation is a response to industry demand, affecting both workforce and the support of talent. As a result, the combined impact of these organisations will be much greater than they can achieve as stand-alone bodies. ADAD, Dance UK, NDTA and YDE will pool their expertise to result in a simplified, strengthened and specialist partnership body nurturing and developing talent and delivering excellence in: education; youth dance; dance of the African diaspora; performance, health and well-being; management, leadership and career development. This will become the subject discussion for dance to further the teaching and learning of dance in schools, embedding education at the heart of the dance sector.

The consortium will support a more coherent national approach to the delivery of dance services and will encourage development across the spectrum, from children and young people’s dance, to professional dance practice and being representative of diversity. This new collaborative working model will directly benefit the 40,000 plus dance workforce, and children dancing in and outside school, and indirectly impact on the millions of adults who participate in dance and watch performances. It will provide a single more powerful voice for dance to policy makers and politicians and a centralised knowledge hub, which is ultimately important for the developing arts sector, to promote best practice and nurture talent.

As a result, children and young people’s dance will be central to the work of the new organisation – as well as providing resources for their teachers – bringing together all areas of the dance sector to support young people right from their first steps. The new organisation will create many more exciting and progressive opportunities for young people and dance professionals.

The Value Of Performing Arts

Department for Culture, Media & SportThe music, performing and visual arts sector (including theatre), is now worth £5.4 billion a year in contributing to the UK economy, new figures from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport have revealed. It is clear here that performing arts have a huge value for the UK as a whole, let alone every individual which engages with the arts. The statistics are part of a wider analysis of the creative industries, which now contribute £76.9 billion to the UK economy.

The contribution is a growth of almost 10% from 2012 to 2013, which is the most recent year available to reference. The 10% increase is three times that of the wider UK economy during the same period, demonstrating how vital the arts are, not just culturally but socially too. Music, performing and visual arts, one of nine sectors included as part of the creative industries, showed a 19% increase on 2012. The new figures also show a 46% increase in the music and performing arts sector since 2008.

Secretary of state for culture, Sajid Javid, has acknowledged the contribution of the creative industries to the wider UK economy as being evident to all, and it is hoped his influence is spread wide across the UK government. The creative industries are perhaps “one of our most powerful tools in driving growth”, remarked Javid, engaging young children and sparking an interest in them. Javid also maintained that the “government is determined to continue its support for this most dynamic of sectors as part of our long-terms economic plan, [and] children’s TV and orchestras have been instrumental in attracting inward investment”.

In terms of UK employment, the creative industries accounted for 1.7 million jobs in 2013, which is 5.6% of total UK jobs and an increase of 1.4% on the previous year. Here we can clearly see the value of the arts which continues to increase.

Dance Cuts In Belgium

Théâtre Royal de la MonnaieIn December there was the controversial announcement that the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie, the most important opera house in Belgium and a source of some of Europe’s most cutting-edge productions, may stop all dance programming after a forthcoming production by iconic Belgian choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker.

Choreographers reacted strongly to this, the reason given that the cut is a result of the steep reduction in funding to the Brussels opera house since 2009, with further cuts announced in mid-October by the newly formed Belgian coalition government.

Senior management at the venue has not expressed a wish to stop producing dance, however the combination of less money and the need to further reduce personnel make prolonging dance difficult. Fewer technical staff will mean each production takes more time to prepare and will have to run for longer to recoup the costs. The venue has no resident dance company and now can no longer offer money to invest, and time on stage.

The potential break with dance is a huge blow to the theatre which has had exceptionally strong links to dance since 1960 with Maurice Béjart’s Ballet of the Twentieth Century. In 1988 American choreographer Mark Morris made a home for his company at the theatre and De Keersmaeker and her company, Rosas, followed in 1992, establishing an international reputation at La Monnaie. Dance has regularly been programmed and supported, including other Belgian and international choreographers such as Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Sasha Waltz.

Belgian choreographers in particular have expressed pessimism about dance’s future in Brussels, and whether their work can be continued there. Any current audiences in Belgium will be lost to other art forms and new ones must be established elsewhere.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

First National College For The Creative And Cultural Industries

High HouseProduction ParkThe first National College for the Creative and Cultural Industries is to be established at the High House Production Park in Thurrock, with backing from the government, it has been revealed. The college will open in September 2016 and will provide specialist training for the technical skills needed by the artistic industries.

It will be managed by Creative and Cultural Skills on behalf of industry employers including the Royal Opera House, Live Nation, White Light and the Association of British Theatre Technicians. Coincidentally, High House Production Park is also home to the Royal Opera House’s set and scenery workshop and costume centre. This first for artistic education should be a great asset to the industry, providing opportunities for aspiring learners to gain the skills they need for this type of work.

The college is one of four employer-led national colleges announced by business secretary Vince Cable in December, with other colleges including centres for advanced manufacturing, digital skills and wind energy. It is important to nourish the talent which brings plays, operas and films to life on stage and screen, as it is the driving force behind our world-leading creative sector. By continuing to invest in the next generation of talent, we are prolonging the industry for the future.

The four colleges will receive up to £80 million capital funding that will be matched by employers, and will cater for around 10,000 students by 2020. High House Production Park will become an important centre for young people to develop the technical skills the creative and cultural sector needs, as well as ensuring the creative sector grows for the long-term. By developing these opportunities and having professionals and training facilities in backstage and technical skills in one place is unmatched and will help enormously in equipping people with the right skills for jobs in the creative industries.

£1 Million Announced For Scottish Youth Arts

Scottish Youth TheatreScottish youth arts have benefitted from £1 million from the Scottish government. The Scottish Government has helped secure the future of Scottish Youth Theatre with the announcement of the money, to be used over three years for the youth arts in Scotland. Following so many funding blows for the arts in recent years, the announcement that the Scottish government is to give such a substantial sum is extremely good news.

The funding, £250,000 of which comes from the private sector, will be used to support Scottish Youth Theatre, the National Youth Choir of Scotland, National Youth Orchestra of Scotland and YDance, the Scottish youth dance organisation. Scottish Youth Theatre was one of the unsuccessful applicants for funding in Creative Scotland’s recent creation of a tier of Regularly Funded Organisations, after previously being a “foundation organisation”, receiving £220,000 a year. However, the other three national youth companies were on similar amounts and successfully applied for RFO status.

The positive announcement for Scottish Youth Theatre comes after a period of time in which there has been increasing public condemnation of the monetary decision by Creative Scotland, criticised by Scottish Youth Theatre alumni. However, the two organisations continue to be in negotiations about alternative routes of support, which is positive news for Scottish theatre too.

Creative Scotland has made it clear that the new funding package had evolved quickly as a government initiative, and has maintained that Scottish Youth Theatre is an important organisation that would be able to apply for project funding. Despite this, there is no indication of how the £1 million package will be split between the four organisations.

Andrew Lloyd Webber To Fund Arts Apprenticeships

Andrew Lloyd WebberAndrew Lloyd Webber’s charitable foundation has announced six grants which will support apprenticeships within professional arts organisations. The grants total more than £150,000, meaning young people will be able to gain better access to the arts, and gain a better chance of success with funds behind them as part of organisations.

Five theatre organisations and one music festival will receive funding: Shared Experience will receive £105,000 over three years to support one trainee director and producer per year as a result of paid six-month apprenticeships; Tangled Feet will receive £14,000 over two years to help fund its participation programme for young people; Manchester Royal Exchange’s Young Company will receive £10,000; Chickenshed will receive £15,000 towards its Young Creators Programme; Icon Theatre in Medway will receive £9,000; and the Lake District International Summer Music Festival will receive £10,000. There is great variety in the organisations which have gained support, meaning benefits will be across the board of the arts industry.

Since the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation was re-launched in 2011, it has donated over £8.5 million to more than 120 projects. The foundation’s support of these projects will give young people valuable experience within professional arts organisations, and not just those which place performers on stage. It seems relatively common that talented individuals working behind the scenes are forgotten or glanced over. However, as the trust advocates, it is equally important to provide training for these skills as it is for performers, because without those behind the scenes – or in other, equally important, areas of the performing arts industry – there would be no show for the performers to work in.

As a result of the grants by the foundation, arts across the UK can continue to produce to high standards having provided solid training and opportunities for those aspiring to work in the arts.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The London Ballet Circle

The London Ballet CircleThe London Ballet Circle provides financial support to student dancers, raising funds by hosting events such as talks by dancers, choreographers and company directors where members can find out from artists about their life and work. The events of the LBC offer a range of prestigious industry artists as speakers at the events, and the LBC also arranges private visits to ballet schools so members can observe students in training, and their incredible discipline and dedication devoted to their art. All of the LBC events raise vital funds to assist the education of the next generation of talent.

LBC was founded in 1946 by Stanley Hawkins and its founder President and first Patron was the founder of the Royal Ballet, Dame Ninette de Valois. Dame Alicia Markova – founder of English National Ballet, as it is now known – succeeded Dame Ninette. LBC also aims to promote interest in dance, rather than just ballet, and the associated arts by arranging a broad range of talks amongst other exclusive events. Recently LBC has hosted talks by world famous stars such as Marianela Nunez, Thiago Soares, Mara Galeazzi and Edward Watson.

Recent visits include watching classes and rehearsals at the Royal Ballet School, English National Ballet School, Tring School for the Performing Arts, the Central School of Ballet and the Yorkshire Ballet Summer School. LBC has also organised private guided tours of dance-related exhibitions at the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Royal Ballet School Museum at White Lodge.

Funds raised by the events provide financial support to gifted student dancers whose school principals have identified as greatly benefiting greatly from high level tuition, such as that provided by the Yorkshire Ballet Summer School, the Wells Weekends, and other summer schools run by the country’s leading ballet companies.

Laine Theatre Arts: Funding Trouble

Laine Theatre ArtsStudents at the prestigious musical theatre college Laine Theatre Arts have had a blow ahead of the new academic year. Epsom and Ewell Council, the area in which the college is situated, has withdrawn housing benefits which many of the student receive.

As an institution of further education, Laine Theatre Arts students were entitled to the benefits in order to subsidise their tuition fees and rent, however September may see many students unable to pay their rent to stay in Epsom and attend college.

Laine Theatre Arts is now deemed a provider of higher education, alongside universities and similar institutions, awarding its graduates with a diploma. This would presumably make the college eligible to receive student loans for the hefty tuition fees which are charged by most performing arts colleges, yet this is not the case. With no access to housing benefits or loans for fees which may see many parents remortgage their houses to pay up, for example, Laine Theatre Arts students are in a rather unfortunate position.

In the wake of cuts to arts funding and speculation as to the survival rate of many West End shows, theatre and dance organisations and providers of performing arts training, it is becoming increasingly clear that the arts are being brushed to one side, devalued by the lack of investment and support from funders. Just last week there was musings in The Stage online as to what would happen if the Royal Opera House was to lose its funding. Whilst the venue is not every audience’s choice for the arts, it would be a great pillar lost in the upholding of the arts and what value they stand for.

Unfortunately there does not appear to be a clear step forward in terms of funding for the arts, but in the short term it is hoped that the students of Laine Theatre Arts will be eligible to apply for student loans to aid their studies.