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Contemporary dance development gets cash injection

  • Date: 11 February 2013
  • Area: International, National, South East, South West

It Needs Horses/Home for Broken Turns, Ben Duke, South East Dance. Credit: Rob Hogeslag

This year audiences can expect even more innovative dance from regional dance organisations with news of a £2.9 million Interreg project and a new £20,000 children's dance commission.

Arts Council England National portfolio organisations South East Dance in Brighton and Somerset based Take Art are joint partners with Eastleigh-based The Point in DanSCe Dialogues 2, a two-year cross-border project between Normandy and Brittany and the South of England to promote and support the work and growth of contemporary dance artists and companies. The Point is currently supported with a £150,000 Arts Council England Grants for the arts award.

Further funding success has also come for The Point associate dance company Commotion Dance, whose proposal to Small Wonder was selected. Small Wonder is a national commission and professional development initiative for creating outdoor work for under-fives. The Eastleigh-based company will receive a £20,000 commission to create a new genre-blending interactive work for children, which will be performed at seven UK festivals in 2013.

Small Wonder is run by Bristol-based Alchemy Rroductions, funded by Arts Council England along with seven national festival partners: Activate Performing Arts, Fuse Medway Festival, Hat Fair, IF Milton Keynes, Lakes Alive, Norfolk and Norwich Festival and Chelmsford Borough Council.

Commotion Dance was recently supported with a £6,250 Arts Council England Grants for the arts award for its new work for children, Ready or Not.

Sally Abbott, Regional Director, South East, Arts Council England says: 'We're really excited to see contemporary dance development get a huge boost in the regions, and we're sure that audiences will enjoy the new work produced.'

Phil Gibby, Regional Director, East, Arts Council England adds: 'We're especially delighted that Arts Council funding has nurtured the talent of artists, producers and organisations in the South East and South West. Arts and culture make money for the country: the contribution of music, visual arts and performing arts exceeds £4 billion a year.'

Creating exceptional dance in South East and South West

The project is a boon for national dance development organisation South East Dance, who has extended its reach and impact with a recently established second base, South East Dance Studios in Kent.

Jamie Watton, CEO/Artistic Director, South East Dance, said: 'We look forward to working with our closest neighbours on both sides of the Channel, and to utilising our common language - the passion to create and present exceptional dance.'

The Point is equally excited - the Eastleigh venue is a dynamic hub for dance, home to the UK's first fully residential Creation Space, and renowned for artist development through its professional programme and Associate Artists scheme.

Sarah Brigham, Artistic Director, The Point Eastleigh, said: 'This project enables The Point and our other UK partners to plug into innovative dance activity, from presenting new work from an eclectic range of artists, to understanding how culture industry works in France.'

Cross border arts exchange

The £2.9 million (€3.5m) Interreg funded DanSCe Dialogues 2 will officially launch in mid-March in Brighton during a two-day 'professional meeting', organised by South East Dance, which will bring all eight of the partners together, including artists and producers from France and England, where they will work, talk, present and perform.

Over the two years, the partners will work on a range of cross-border initiatives including:

  • Research laboratories
  • Cross-border artists' residencies
  • UK touring of work from Normandy and Brittany
  • French touring of artists based in the South of England
  • Conferences
  • Cross-Channel job shadowing opportunities
  • Creation of a unique early years' project working across the partnership

Cath James, Co-Director of Dance at Take Art, a pioneering arts charity serving the towns, villages and rural communities of Somerset, said: 'We look forward to bringing some exciting work into Somerset and the wider South of the UK, and sending our extraordinary artists across the channel, as well as developing and celebrating contemporary dance in all its forms.'

New work from young company

In Commotion Dance's winning project proposal Little Artist: Big Painting, a mixture of live dance, paint and music revolving around large painting easels will help to create a magical world for children and their families.

Little Artist: Big Painting will premiere at Norfolk and Norwich Festival in May 2013. The company estimates that the tour will generate a further £14,000 in revenue.

Vicki Hargreaves, Artistic Director, Commotion Dance, says: 'We have rehearsals starting on 18 February, then we meet again in April for two weeks to finish the piece. Our musician is collecting a library of sounds for the sound scape, and we have a designer on board to create the painting easels. I have been researching ideas and working with a nursery focus group with dance and movement sessions with 3- and 4-year-olds.

'The recent Grants for the arts award built my confidence in applying for awards, supporting the company to grow. It's enabled us to start an exciting journey!'

The commission includes a trip to Europe to observe outdoor performances and opportunity to work with an outdoor consultant.

Vicki says: 'We are working with StopGAP Dance Company to support the rehearsal process and have been speaking with Fevered Sleep, who won the last commission.'

For more information about our Grants for the arts scheme, see