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Arts Council England’s Grants for the arts is supporting great dance in the South West

  • Date: 17 December 2013
  • Artform: Dance
  • Area: South West
Dancers Chevon Edwards and Clare Billington, Neshima Dance Company, 2012 Dancers Chevon Edwards and Clare Billington, Neshima Dance Company, 2012, Mark Pepperall

The South West is home to spectacular dance, supported through Arts Council England's Grants for the arts scheme.

Grants for the arts is an open access scheme that awards National Lottery money to thousands of arts projects nationally each year.

We talk to Anneliese Slader, Relationship Manager Dance, South West about the opportunities for dancers, dance practitioners, choreographers and companies who may be interested in applying.

'Grants for the arts offers awards from £1,000 to £100,000 to support the creation, presentation and delivery of great art,' Anneliese explains.

'But there are so many things that individuals and companies can apply for. It's really worth people getting in touch if they have a project they're interested in developing - whether it's a new product, artistic practice, a tour or even their own business.'

Supporting new work

One of the ways Grants for the arts supports dance is by helping artists, choreographers and companies produce new work.

Anneliese explains: 'James Wilton Dance is about to premiere a new piece called Last Man Standing at Dance City in Newcastle this January. The work's development and subsequent tour in 2014 is supported with nearly £60,000 Grants for the arts funding, along with funding from Plymouth Dance and Falmouth University.

'Our funding for projects means that artists can bring in interesting partners, both creatively and to support the production and distribution of work.'

Research and development

Grants for the arts also nurtures artists' growth and development, not just the product.

Anneliese says: 'We recently supported Bristol-based choreographer Batel Magen with a small professional research and development (R&D) award to further develop her choreographic language.

'The funding enabled her to bring in mentors to support her - established choreographers, performers, arts specialists - as well as share her learnings with the performing arts community at the end of the R&D process. Her learnings will inform her work as Artistic Director and Choreographer of Neshima Dance Company.'

Organisational development

Grants for the arts can also help artists develop themselves and their companies - our funding can be used for things like audience development, marketing, and business planning.

Anneliese says: 'Choreographer and performer Karla Shacklock recently received a six-month grant to develop herself as a business and as a creative. With the grant, she was able to look at things like branding and identity, as well as her artistic vision. The funding also enabled her to bring in lots of different strands, such as working with a creative producer, and  to create new touring works.'

Total investment

Anneliese says it's important for the dance sector to see Grants for the arts as just one part of the total investment picture for projects.

She explains: 'This could mean bringing partners on board for funding or in-kind support and also talking to other agencies that might be able to support the process in other ways.

'For instance, in the past few years, James Wilton has also been supported by various schemes. He got a BBC performing arts fellowship, which  allowed him to work with Swindon Dance for 18 months. He's also been supported by National portfolio organisations such as South East Dance.

'This year, he was commissioned to choreograph the opening ceremony of the 2013 Rugby League World Cup and to create an outdoor work for the SALT Festival in Cornwall. All of these opportunities have helped to build his profile as a dancer and choreographer, and demonstrate how our investment in the National Portfolio and a range of grants for the arts projects contribute to a whole developing ecology of practice.'

Advice to first-time applicants

Since 2012, Cscape Dance Company from Cornwall has received two under £10k Grants for the arts award to develop and tour If The Shoe Fits.

Sally Williams, Artistic Director, Cscape Dance Company tells us more. 

She says, 'We could not have created the show or tour without our first grant. Creating work for children and families was a new venture for Cscape.

Our first grant led to 25 performances in village halls, schools and festivals.

'The show was so well received that we applied for a second grant to develop it for theatre venues, as well as rural touring venues.  With the second grant, we created higher production values. We developed the set, costume and lighting design. We employed new cast members. We also worked with a specialist marketing consultant.

'We booked a national tour of the show with 23 dates, which allowed us to take the work to new audiences and develop links with new theatre venues.'

Sally has a few tips for first-time applicants.

She says, 'Competition is very high for awards, so think carefully about timescales.  Make sure you plan your project well in advance, so that if your application is unsuccessful the first or second time, you still have time to work on the application and re-submit before your project begins.

'Talk to your Arts Council officer for advice and to let them know your plans. The officer can be hugely beneficial in helping to shape applications and to plan the progression of the company.

'Be realistic about how long the application will take to write. I tend to take a few weeks to do one application and do small chunks at a time, other people prefer to sit down and lock themselves away for a few days to do it in one go. Whatever your preference, double the amount time you think it will take to write!

'Show your application to a couple of people for feedback before you submit.  It can be difficult to see where you are lacking evidence to support your proposal when you've been working on it for days. A fresh pair of eyes can really help.

'If you have not done a budget before, seek help from someone with experience.   Learn how to use Excel to a basic level when working on your budget before transferring the figures to the application.'

For more information about Grants for the arts, see For further advice, phone 0845 300 6200 or email