The Dance Manifesto Summit
Organised by Dance UK, as part of Dance Umbrella 2006 Lillian Baylis Theatre, Sadler’s Wells Theatre
Reviewed by Carolene Hinds
The Dance Manifesto was presented to David Lammy MP, Minister for Culture in July 2006. This was followed by a launch at City Hall with ADAD and the Jiving Lindy Hoppers as part of the Mayor of London’s ‘The Big Dance’ which also saw a multitude of dance events happening simultaneously all over London.
The most memorable being in Trafalgar Square, venue for the BBC’s ‘Dancing in the Street’ broadcast with world records being broken and a great showcase for some of the many styles of dance with many from the APD sector.
The summit at Sadler’s Wells was titled ‘A Chance for Dance - Be heard not just seen.’ It was an opportunity for members of the dance sector to take advantage of a free training session with a professional lobbyist and arm themselves with a basic lobbying information kit that could be used as part of a co-ordinated campaign to raise the profile of dance and interact with politicians at local and national level. The overwhelming message of the day was that it is not just enough to be able to dance, as it could all be a short lived career if we don’t make steps now, to secure the arts form’s future.
We listened to the inspiring stories of the journey of ‘Suffolk Dance’ as they became ‘Dance East’ and the growth of ‘The Point’ in Eastleigh. It was impressive the way that the visions for their organisations and passion for dance pushed them to achieve what some saw as an impossible dream - rather like turning straw into gold. This is a scenario which is all too familiar for all, artists, especially those within the APD sector.
‘The Dance Manifesto’ and the ‘basic Lobbying Kit’ provide an excellent foundation for the Dance Community as a whole and the APD sector as part of that community to make a difference and make sure that the contribution of dance is reflected in local and national funding agendas.
The debate about the Dance Manifesto Campaign saw an impressive line up of speakers:
Sir Gerald Kaufman MP (chair of the new all party Dance Group)
Arlene Phillips (choreographer and television presenter)
Mike Lee (CEO Vero Communications and Communications Director of the successful London 2012 bid, author of ‘The Race for the 2012 Olympics’)
Jane Robinson (Deputy Director, National Campaign For The Arts)
Caroline Miller (Director, Dance UK)
Christina Crisou (Education Manager, Akademi)
Bruce Sansom (Director Central School of Ballet)
Kicking off the proceedings was a film to promote London as the ideal venue for the 2012 Olympic Games. We watched a young runner make a journey across London, passing many famous landmarks, celebrities and a few dancers. Set to the Heather Small soundtrack ‘What have you done today to make you feel proud?’, it was a very moving piece of film and a very thought provoking question.
Carl Campbell (Dance Company 7) asked, ‘What do I say to a child who says “I want to make dance a career?” ‘. He explained that he struggles to answer them. Should he use his own experience? The image of a face pressed against the window looking in seemed to sum up the issue of exclusion. The diversity of dance and the way that it integrates cultures, needs to be looked at, as does the provision for the mature dancer (such as found in Carl Campbell Dance Company 7’s Recycled Teenagers). This aspect specifically brought up the concern that efforts were particularly focussed on the dance in the National Curriculum for the younger generation.
The APD sector needs to join the campaign to ensure that the merits of dance can benefit the whole of society on many levels to allow our professionals to get work with and in schools at various levels of study through the National Curriculum, and therefore educating people as to history and cultural richness of the society we live in. We need to arm ourselves with the facts and figures that prove the benefits of dance in order to promote a healthy society. We need to project a positive image and have a complete understanding of the sector, how APD dance is positioned and how we can effect change.