Theatre Bristol has always been passionate about dance, as we are here to support and develop all live performance, but 2016 has been ALL ABOUT DANCE. We've shared ideas around dance strategy at every monthly team meeting and every quarterly Board meeting.
It felt like Theatre Bristol had a job to do: to shine a light on dance in the city.
I’ve met with lots of people over the year – funders, producers, presenters, regional partners, students and professional practitioners making or leading a wide variety of work for audiences and participants.
I’ve heard about the need for more professional classes, a sense of home (but with the freedom to know that artistic peers don’t have to be fellow dance artists), connection with others and better sharing of information and opportunities, studio space, programming ambitions, players to help share risk, opportunities outside arts and culture, leadership, advocacy, equality of opportunity, excellence for audiences and participants.
I've heard that it is a terrible time to seek public investment, but have also seen some entrepreneurial genius and partnerships outside the arts - bringing in resource.
I’m personally particularly excited by the possibilities of new space to make dance in unexpected places outside our city centre, partnership between everyone who cares about dance to increase the offer to artists and audiences (distributed leadership and advocacy), thinking regionally and nationally, being open with this ‘strategy’ process to encourage often unheard voices, and in breaking down any remaining hierarchy between dance for the stage and dance for community – because this might find us what everyone working in the arts needs – more resource, even more meaning in the world and new people to play with.
At Theatre Bristol, we are keen to build on the excellent work done by Dance Producer Emma-Jane Benning whose post came to an end in 2015. Emma-Jane fought hard for funds to go directly to the people who ‘make and do’ and she always put ambition and quality at the heart of her work.
So as well as all the meetings and chats on email, Theatre Bristol started the DANCE IN BRISTOL AUDIT. We started it but lots of people contributed – adding people we did not know and re-writing bits to make it better. It is still a draft document and perhaps always will be because things change very quickly. The point of the AUDIT is to map what already exists and to celebrate this work. We wanted to start with opportunities rather than problems. You can download the AUDIT below. I think it is exciting to see the quality and quantity of work that happens and believe that even better things can happen if more people know about each other.
The next step was a city-wide conversation and for this I worked with Pavilion Dance South West, Katy Noakes, Bristol City Council and Arts Council England. We invited some brilliant people but not ALL the brilliant people, because it was a working group and time was tight. You can download the notes from this meeting below. The attendees at the meeting had this ‘starter for 10’ to kick things off:
Aim: Loads of participants and audiences for dance in Bristol. ALL people. Super top quality
To get this:
I came away from the meeting wanting:
You will have different ideas / impressions from the meeting notes and we'd love to hear them.
The next coming together focused on dance is an event that Theatre Bristol has supported, led by choreographer Karla Shacklock called Out of the Box: How to Survive as a Dance Artist.
LOADS of people are coming to this. I’ll be listening and scribbling away on the Dance Futures manifesto.
So I'll leave you with the meeting notes and the audit and say again – please contact us at email@example.com if you would like to talk about dance and Bristol.
Co-Director Theatre Bristol
We need your help. We want to maintain this site for the 20,000 people who use it each month, but the technology it is built on needs serious updating. If you use the site please support us with a £3 donation, or whatever you feel able to give, so we can develop it and keep it a free and valuable resource for people who make and love theatre.
You can also give to us without costing you a penny by signing up to Easy Fundraising, so when you shop online from over 2500 retailers Theatre Bristol will receive a donation.