News: Dance in a new funding era

Thursday 31 March 2011

Wednesday 30 March was a watershed for everyone who works in the arts. Over 1300 organisations applied for funding from Arts Council England and of the 638 who were unsuccessful, 200 hundred were arts organisations who had been RFOs (Regularly Funded Organisations) and learned that they wouldn’t be joining the new National Portfolio and were losing their funding. Of the 689 organisations who will become NPOs, 100 are new to Arts Council regular funding – so there were some good news stories on a bleak day.

Looking at the picture in London first – of the 206 organisations who were cut completely, 47 were in London – and they included Lea Anderson’s long running company The Cholmondeleys and FeatherstoneHaughs and Henri Oguike Dance Company. Shobana Jeyasingh’s company faces a reduction of 29%, DV8 11% and Rambert 4%. For Candoco Dance Company, Michael Clark and Akram Khan’s companies funding levels are at more or less a standstill. In contrast, Wayne McGregor | Random Dance gets an increase of 29%, Balletboyz 15% and Luca Silvestrini’s Protein Dance, a non RFO company becomes an NPO, with first year funding of £189,500.

Dance Umbrella, the festival which has been bringing contemporary dance to London and organising UK tours since 1978 will have its funding reduced by 43% and The Place, the base for Richard Alston’s company and London Contemporary Dance School will have to bear a reduction of 20% in its grant. Tim Wood, their Director of Communications told the Guardian: “we’ve been told that our work is good and important and should carry on, but we’ll have to do it for less money. We don’t yet know how we’ll manage that.”

London based English National Ballet faces a reduction of 15%, like Birmingham Royal Ballet and Northern Ballet, who have recently moved into a new home in Leeds. Ballet Black, who had hoped to become an NPO were sadly disappointed

Amongst the larger dance presenting venues The Barbican receives a huge boost with an increase of 129%. Sadler’s Wells is cut by 5%, Southbank Centre by 7%, the Royal Opera House 15%. Rich Mix, a relatively new venue in East London which has been including small scale dance performances in its programming mix takes a cut of nearly 60% – and there was more bad news for artsdepot, which had already lost all its funding from Barnet Council earlier this year and now faces a reduction of over 11% from ACE. Jacksons’ Lane in Highgate got a real term reduction in funding – but declared themselves happy to become an NPO. Siobhan Davies Studios got the funding they applied for – even if it means a reduction of 8% in real terms.

Organisations present dance in outdoor locations got a boost, with Greenwich and Docklands Festivals getting a 33% increase and Mimbre 26%. The English Folk Dance and Song Society – classified as a music organisation – got a 37% increase.

Greenwich Dance – which announced a new partnership with neighbouring Conservatoire for music and dance Trinity Laban – was one of the good news stories of the day, with a 42% increase. Across the river to the north, East London Dance got an increase of nearly 12% – and the venue they work closely with, Stratford Circus, gets a massive 550% increase – giving them around £900,000 over the three years of this funding agreement.

It was largely good news for the dance agencies around the UK as well – although increases in funding are often balancing out the deficit caused by the reductions in local authority support. Yorkshire Dance getting an increase of 55%, Dance East 27%, Dance City in Newcastle 33% and DanceXchange, Birmingham 8%. Dance South West got the largest percentage increase (103%). Some of the smaller agencies didn’t fare so well with Hampshire Dance and Dance Digital (Essex & Herts) losing their regular ACE funding.

National organisations Dance UK and Youth Dance England seem to have fallen foul of Arts Council England policy to focus on organisations and companies delivering artistic projects. Both are working on new ways to deliver their work. In contrast, Association of Dance of the African Diaspora, not previously an RFO, becomes an NPO.

Increasingly dance companies are based outside of London and the South East seems to be a hot spot – with Hofesh Shechter in Brighton up 73% and receiving £400,000 each year of this funding agreement, Jasmin Vardimon also in Brighton with £250,000 per year (an 8% rise) StopGAP Dance Company with around £200,000 a year (up 71%) and South East Dance also getting a 17% increase. In Yorkshire Vincent Dance Theatre and 2 FaCeD DaNcE Company both get increases of around 84% and in the North East Ballet Lorent gets 35%. In the East Maresa Von Stockhert has a 40% increase. West Midlands based Sonia Sabri achieves regular funding from ACE for the first time.

All figures rounded to the nearest whole number from Arts Council England.

Full details of all National Portfolio Organisations are in a spreadsheet on the Arts Council website – and bear in mind there were around another 600 organisations who applied and weren’t successful.

Statements from organisations

Kiki Gale, Artistic Director East London Dance says: “we are delighted with today’s announcement that we are part of Arts Council England’s national portfolio of funded organisations with a cash increase for 2012-2015 of 22.8%. It will enable us to invest in an ambitious artistic development programme and further develop our successful activity and provision in East London and beyond.

We will be able to continue to make a dynamic contribution to a bespoke and diverse programme of dance performance and participation, including site specific and outdoor commissions and a strong dance participation programme for young and older people.

This decision is also a credit to the partnerships we have been able to establish in Stratford and beyond and we would like to thank all the artists, participants and partners who have worked with us to create this vibrant dancing community across east London. We look forward to continuing to develop these partnerships, and build new ones and as we approach 2012 we look forward to working to create a lasting legacy for culture in this unique part of London.”

***The Cholmondeleys & Featherstonehaughs* have had a complete withdrawal of Arts Council funding. Their statement (from the Guardian):

“We are enormously saddened that the Arts Council did not approve their national portfolio application. It was an incredibly exciting artistic programme planned with strong partnerships and opportunities for participation and education based on, and grown from, the experience of 27 years of existence. _ We believe in the resilience of the sector and hope that there will still exist space for innovation in the face of these swingeing cuts. _The Featherstonehaughs are touring this autumn and we are looking forward to presenting these amazing shows and performers in the UK.”

Craig Hassell of English National Ballet (down 15%) says:

“The message from government is that the arts should anticipate reduced funding. Whilst this is a disappointment, it also reflects the reality of the current economy. The challenge for English National Ballet is to develop other opportunities for revenue, to extend and nurture partnerships and to re-examine all areas of expenditure.”
(from the Guardian Culture cuts)

Siobhan Davies, Artistic director of Siobhan Davies Dance said:

“We are pleased that Siobhan Davies Dance has received the grant that we applied for, and over a sustained period of time. This will help us to continue to re-imagine and re-invent how and where dance happens and with our partnership organisation Independent Dance support the independent thinking and practice of dance artists._

“However, the arts are being cut drastically with ripple effects that extend way beyond the overall loss to Arts Council clients. We need to sustain and animate the argument that to withdraw money from the arts will have a negative impact on artists’ work, their relationships to their communities and on the creative industries.”
(from the Guardian Culture cuts)

Dance UK will not be funded as an NPO, as Arts Council England has decided not to fund support and membership organisations but to concentrate funding on organisations and companies delivering artistic projects. Moira Sinclair, Executive Director, London, Arts Council England says:
‘Dance UK has produced good work as an Arts Council funded organisation, supporting professional dancers and choreographers, particularly through its Healthier Dancer Programme, and raising the profile of dance in the wider sector. In the light of the limited funds available, it was with regret that we decided not to fund Dance UK’s application through our National portfolio. However, we will be working with the organisation to explore ways of ensuring this valuable work continues in the future.’

Caroline Miller, Director of Dance UK says: **_“The Arts Council England cuts are one of a number of blows to the dance sector, along with cuts to higher and further education budgets, local authority arts funding, and reductions to the number of student and working visas for the most talented international dancers and students who want to come to the UK. Taken together, these cuts threaten the phenomenal success of dance in Britain. _
_The April 2010 Arts Council England review of its regularly funded organisations showed that dance is the fastest growing art form with ACE’s dance portfolio increasing its attendances by 103% over 12 months. For any sector – be it business or arts – this would have been the moment to invest in dance to build on this success.”

We understand that Arts Council England is in a difficult position with 14.9% less grant in aid funds to distribute, but we urge them and the Government to increase funding again for the arts as soon as they can.”

From Protein Dance Luca Silvestrini (Artistic Director) and Sarah Trist (General Manager) say:

“We are looking forward to working with our partners to deliver an exciting and innovative programme which places new collaborations and community involvement at its heart. We would like to thank all the many people and organizations which have supported Protein on our journey to this point, including those who are currently shouldering the burden of government funding cuts.”

Dance Umbrella responds to news of ACE funding cut: **_“The Arts Council of England has, today, recognised the value that Dance Umbrella brings to the arts in London. At the same time they have set us a severe challenge: to bring a vibrant programme of new dance to London but with severely reduced resources. The challenge is now to raise significantly more funds from private sources, an area where we have had great success, at a time when there is significantly more competition in this area. Bringing dance to new places and spaces in London, often on a free-to-view basis remains at the centre of our mission and we remain confident of fulfilling this even in these challenging times.”_
__*Betsy Gregory, Artistic Director of Dance Umbrella* **“”:

South East Dance (SED) say they are: *\”*pleased to announce it has been successful in its application for National Portfolio Funding (NPO) from Art Council England (ACE) for the period 2012/13 to 2014/15. The offer made by ACE is £595,000 per year. This is less than applied for but is at a level where we feel we can continue to contribute to the development of the thriving dance ecology in the South East region. SED proposes to deliver a rich and diverse programme in the coming years. SED places artists and communities at the heart of all it does and will continue to offer support and, where requested, guidance to peers in these times of flux and transition. Our priority remains to ensure that the infrastructure for dance in the South East continues to build and strengthen, enhancing the conditions for sustainable and bold dance to take place in a shifting national arts landscape. Our activity for 2011/12 will be unaffected by the NPO outcome.”

Chief Executive, James Tilston and Artistic Director, Adrian Berry of Jacksons’ Lane – the North London venue which presents dance and circus in its mix of programming say:

“Jacksons Lane is delighted to be one of the organisations invited to join the Arts Council National Portfolio, recognising the fantastic work we’re doing across so many artforms. Being a part of the portfolio will enable us to continue and develop our cultural offer for Haringey and across North London. While we’re glad our work has been recognized and thank the Arts Council for their faith in Jacksons Lane, this is a torrid time for arts funding and the withdrawal of funding to many other organisations will impact heavily both in London and nationally.”

__*Tamara Ashley, Director of Dance Digital* who have been unsuccessful in their bid to become an NPO said:
“We are hugely disappointed by the Arts Council’s decision, but while the loss of funding will greatly affect our road map into the future, we are now beginning to look at the options that could be open to us in the current economic climate. I will be working with the DanceDigital team, our trustees and partners, to explore different ways of supporting the innovative work of artists and of enriching our community through our existing dance-based programmes.”


Hampshire Dance has been consistently praised by Arts Council England for its high-quality youth dance and artist development activity across Hampshire and the south east. They have also highlighted the organisation’s governance and financial management as being of exemplary standard. Peter Taylor, Chair of Hampshire Dance said: “The trustees and staff of Hampshire Dance have a substantial legacy of twenty years of innovative and exemplary dance development to protect and secure into the future. We will be working with our other funding partners and stakeholders over the coming months to ensure that Hampshire continues to be an area of rich and vibrant dance activity”
__*Lucy Frazer, Director of Hampshire Dance* added: “We are all shocked and saddened by this decision and will do everything we can to secure the future of dance in Hampshire and the south east”.

Press response:
Sarah Crompton takes a look at the real cost of the funding cuts, “I find it incomprehensible that ACE has removed all funding from Henri Oguike, since he seems to me one of the brightest and most interesting choreographers around, even if his commitment to pure dance and classical music runs counter to fashion. It is also hard to understand why Ballet Black has been deprived of support at exactly the moment when its work exhibits the excellence the council is supposedly backing.” Telegraph, 30 March.11

See also separate news stories on The Place*,* Youth Dance England*,* Candoco Dance Company*& the partnership between* Greenwich Dance and Trinity Laban

What’s On