Dance Futures – Ruth Hecht’s findings

Our Dance Futures Advocate, Ruth Hecht, gets us up to speed with her work as part of Dance Futures Steering Group; a group of organisations and independents committed to taking dance development forwards.

Danceblast, BS3TIVAL

To date I have:

  • Spoken to over 50 dance artists in the city about their work
  • Set up a mailing list to regularly flag up dance news and opportunities
  • Worked with people from Bristol’s arts and cultural sector to pledge their support for dance – read the pledges from 20 organisations here
  • Met regularly with relevant officers from Arts Council England and Bristol City Council to advocate for Bristol’s dance sector
  • Produced ‘Knowing Me, Knowing You’ to bring dance artists and others together
  • Met people in the health and social care sector to discuss how dance can have an impact on their priorities
  • With the Steering Group, produced The elephant is looking for a roomoutlining Bristol Dance Futures’ approach to the issue of a permanent dance space in the city
  • Made direct connections between individual dance artists and others who can support their work
  • Advised people who are programming dance about marketing
  • Attended several strategic arts and cultural meetings in Bristol to ensure the needs of dance artists and audiences for dance are understood
  • Given presentations at 2 regional dance events about Bristol’s dance ecology.

What have I learnt?

  • Bristol’s dance sector is incredible:
    • People are making work which is touring nationally and internationally
    • People are making work which crosses boundaries e.g. in relation to new technology and across art-forms
    • People are working in health settings, in schools, in local communities… they are making dance with all kinds of different people from pre-school age children to elders
    • People are training, mentoring and supporting young people to dance
    • People are participating – 100s, if not 1000s of people a week are taking part in dance classes
    • People are supporting each other – through mentoring, finding spaces, setting up CPD opportunities
    • People are programming dance in venues across the city


    • Many dance artists feel undervalued and unrecognised, partly because…
    • There have been a lot of stop/start initiatives which individually are really positive, and people really appreciate them… but most haven’t been sustained, and so there’s no momentum and people get discouraged (Bristol Dance Futures is about to map and evaluate 15 years’ of dance initiatives in the city)
    • There is some cross over work with other art-forms, but there’s a frustration that this doesn’t happen enough.
Rise Youth Dance

So, what next?

    • Existing venues are key to giving the sector the support and recognition it needs, and establishing dance within Bristol’s wider cultural ecology, so work will continue with arts and cultural organisations in the city to develop their pledges for dance
    • Going forward Bristol Dance Futures wants to ensure there are opportunities in the city for:
      • Talent development – spotting and nurturing dance artists of the future
      • Professional development – enhancing the skills and knowledge of professional dance artists
      • Social engagement – making sure the dance ecology is vibrant and robust so that people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities can watch and take part in high quality dance
  • In the second half of 2018, Bristol Dance Futures will put in place resources to ensure the work of Bristol Dance Futures can continue to develop in 2019 and beyond.


If you want to contact Ruth email:

August 2018