News: Compass Live - Meet the Chair

Tuesday 30 May 2017

Meet the Chair of Compass Live Eva Martinez, Artistic Programmer & Artist Development at Sadler’s Wells.

You started your career at Trinity Laban, how does it feel to be coming back?

This was the first place I worked, as an intern over 15 years ago! It was my first job in dance in the UK: daunting and exciting times. I actually started in the old building called Laurie Grove and got to see the Creekside building being built from day one. So I feel very close to the space itself, and the people who worked towards this milestone. I actually wrote the script for the architectural tour that still takes place round the building today! I feel this place has been a key part of my journey and I always feel at home here.

The artists involved in the Q&A are four young female choreographers – what do you think are the challenges for artists these days?

Sadler’s Wells took part in a programme called Advance that Tonic Theatre led, focusing on gender equality in the performing arts. You can read more about their findings here which highlight the barriers

It was clear from that research and from our professional experience, that the barrier women face in society at large are also barriers in the dance world. This is made more acute by the stiff competition there is to make ambitious art happen in the UK.

I’m really pleased we are taking action to achieve greater equality and as curator I have been made even more aware of the impact of unconscious biases and how to tackle them. Interestingly, one of the findings from the programme was that open call opportunities like Compass Commission, tend to benefit women more positively. They put themselves forward more readily through these transparent, open call processes and do well in that context; better than they do at getting commissions by approaching theatres directly or by direct private invitation from commissioners, where males counterpart do better. It also means the amount of commissioning money via open call is transparent and equal regardless of gender.

Do you think commissioning programmes are important for artists these days?

Finding resources to make an idea come reality in the arts is a key part of the work and commissioning helps start new projects with substantial funds. It creates a bond between the commissioner and the artist that is very different to simply being invited to present an already existing piece of work. Commissioning is so crucial as it also represents hard cash, not support in kind, and in a competitive climate for funds, that is vital.

As an artistic programmer, what do you look for from dance artists when programming work?

As well as talent and a distinctive artistic identity, I always look for artists that have a generous, open view of the world, who are aware of its complexities; it is important for me that artists work from a personal place, connecting outwards and that they work doesn’t become self-indulgent.

They also need to be able to make things happen and be open to working in partnership with the people like me and my team inside the institution. I am also aware when working in larger institutions like Sadler’s Wells, of opening spaces in our programmes for independent artist – that may have less resources than regular funded companies – and for dance practices that are operating in the fringes of the mainstream dance culture.

Personally, as a curator I am interested in this tension between practices that stretch the notions of choreography and dance and how they can be invited into institutions to meet a wider audience than those already in the know.

What are you most looking forward to from the Compass Live Q&A?

I have never done a Facebook live event and curious who will engage with us. I look forward to hearing from the great artists in the panel too.

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