Below is the open letter to Arts Council England that was developed by contemporary dance artists, members and supporters of the international dance community in partnership with Equity Freelance Dance Network. The letter intends to ensure the protection of Greenwich Dance in the face of the 100% funding cut to its National Portfolio Organisation funding from 2018.
Please add your name to the letter by signing the petition here.
To: Sir Nicholas Serota – Chairman of Arts Council England Mr Darren Henley OBE – Chief Executive of Arts Council England Ms Cate Caniffe – Director, Dance, Arts Council England Ms Joyce Wilson – Director, London Area, Arts Council England
Protect Greenwich Dance
We, contemporary dance artists, members and supporters of the international dance community in partnership with Equity Freelance Dance Network are writing to voice our deep concern regarding the 100% cut to National Portfolio Organisation funding for Greenwich Dance from April 2018 – March 2022.
We would like to know how you intend to ensure Greenwich Dance’s future survival.
Why is this important?
Greenwich Dance plays a vital role in the dance ecology of this country, and the decision of Arts Council England directly affects their capacity to continue operating in the future. This has a massive ramiﬁcation for the professional freelance independent dance community based in London and beyond.
This statement has been initiated by a body of freelance artists acting independently of Greenwich Dance as an organisation. We seek to strengthen Greenwich Dance’s case when applying for alternative funding streams and aim to lobby for their future support as the organisation which is best placed to provide much needed critical support for the independent dance sector in England.
A large portion of Greenwich Dance’s focus is on creating quality dance engagements for the local community and for non-professional dancers; however this statement focuses on their artist development support and provision for the continued enabling of professional dance work.
Greenwich Dance provide a range of tailored support and employment for a diverse body of artists, from recent graduates to established artists and dance companies including performers, teachers, producers, technicians, accompanists/musicians, mentors, facilitators, dance companies and choreographers.
The shape of this support includes affordable professional classes (with live music), subsidised studio and ofﬁce space, set and equipment storage, meeting rooms, teaching work, performance opportunities, associate artist relationships, work-in-progress sharings, feedback and post show discourse, assistance with applications, technical support, marketing advice and advocacy.
Consequently, the artists they engage are enabled to realise a range of projects, training, practices, research and touring productions, in London, nationally and internationally.
Greenwich Dance identify early potential and demonstrate a commitment to continued support, as a result they have kick-started the careers of many of our most celebrated dance artists and this work contributes signiﬁcantly to the artistic and economic value of the arts sector.
Greenwich Dance fundamentally understand that effective artist support is more than a set of easily quantiﬁable structures or visible schemes. Instead they give importance to working with artists in a responsive and bespoke way which enables a wealth of dynamic, long-lasting and often pioneering relationships. They have spent 25 years developing a culture within the organisation that understands the strength and value of attending to the ‘how’ of its many artist centric operations. It is the open door, the welcome, the listening, the quality of feedback and the personal human-scale nature of the place which has enabled incredible work to be fostered and makes many of us consider it a home for our respective practices.
Greenwich Dance’s professional classes for contemporary dance artists encompass the broad range of current practices and approaches that are being engaged in across the dance scene at any given time. The breadth of those classes means that Greenwich Dance is the studio of choice for many of the contemporary dancers and teachers who are based in or visiting London.
The ability of dance artists to live, train and work in London is already pushed to breaking point and the opportunities for surviving as an artist in the city are increasingly reduced to those with the ability to self-subsidise the work they do. Taking away the support that Greenwich Dance provide is like putting up yet another obstacle for people from low income backgrounds to succeed in our industry.
The cut to Greenwich Dance’s funding to help independent artists in London and the recent Arts Council devolution of funds towards the regions, appears to be an encouragement for the workforce to leave the city. However this is unsustainable for dancers to manage without continued professional classes outside the capital and without any onus on dance organisations in these areas to provide them. London continues to provide the majority of employment, and unless better opportunities are created for the independent sector outside the city, dancers will be reluctant to move.
While we appreciate that an increased level of ﬁnancial support directly to dance companies will help sustain their practices, we are concerned that the needs and value of the independent sector have been overlooked. Furthermore, both dance companies and independent artists need an organisation like Greenwich Dance to co-ordinate, advise, advocate and partner on projects. Removing funding from Greenwich Dance leaves an unbalanced ecology.
Greenwich Dance applied for an incredibly small amount of funding when viewed against the other NPO’s, yet the potential impact and breadth of their investment, through the hundreds of artists they engage cannot be overestimated.
The funding cut you have made is a deep wound currently felt by the entire professional freelance independent dance community and evidence that you value their contribution to the dance industry is desperately sought. We hope this statement brings greater clarity to the essential role that Greenwich Dance plays in this equation and makes visible the number of people who are impacted by decisions about its future.