The Mayor, the Minister and the Manifesto
By Caroline Miller
Less than a year since the idea of a dance manifesto was first discussed at a meeting between the dance world and the National Campaign for the Arts (NCA) on 8 September 2005, the finished Dance Manifesto was presented to David Lammy MP, Minister for Culture and launched at City Hall during the Big Dance in July 2006.
This is a major achievement in such a short period of time and has only been possible with the wide contributions and commitment from across the dance sector. Though the journey hasn’t always been easy, the resulting document sends out a clear message that dance is a flourishing, diverse, professional industry that enriches society, but could achieve so much more with further Government support.
The private dance delegation that delivered the Dance Manifesto to the Minister for Culture made a strong impact with its combination of star names and expert knowledge and we thank Arlene Phillips (choreographer and television presenter), Darcey Bussell (principal ballerina for The Royal Ballet) and Jonzi D (choreographer and Artistic Director of Jonzi D Productions) for making time to support the launch of the Manifesto.
David Lammy welcomed the Dance Manifesto enthusiastically, especially the fact that the dance sector was speaking to government with a united voice. This was stressed by Alistair Spalding, Chair of Dance UK in his speech at the Dance Manifesto launch at City Hall in London. Spalding, who was also part of the delegation, said he had never heard any politician welcome an arts initiative so positively.
David Lammy said that his department was open to what dance had to say and that he hoped we would be showing the Manifesto to other politicians and asking for their support.
He also said he could address the points raised in the Dance Manifesto in the regular DCMS Dance Forums.
Over 100 people attended the Dance Manifesto launch on 20 July, representing a wide cross section of the dance world.
All Party Parliamentary Dance Group
The inaugural meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Dance Group was held at the Palace of Westminster on 18 July. This is the first time that dance has had a dedicated special interest group in parliament.
The group already has the support of known-dance supporter Sir Gerald Kaufman MP. The dancers Michael Nunn and Billy Trevitt of George Piper Dances found time in their hectic schedule to speak at the first meeting and though only a small number of MPs were able to attend: Frank Doran MP (Labour, Aberdeen North); Harry Cohen MP (Labour, Leyton & Wanstead); John Dawson researcher for Andrew Slaughter MP (Labour, Shepherds Bush and Ealing); Bob Russell MP (Lib Dem, Colchester); and Sandra Osbourne (Labour, Ayr, Carrick, Cumnock), Frank Doran has received nearly 50 responses from parliamentarians about the group.
Dance UK will distribute the confirmed list of MPs and Peers who have signed up to the group when Parliament re-convenes in October.
Moving Forward - how you can get involved in the Dance Manifesto Campaign:
The creation of the Dance Manifesto is the first step in a long term campaign to increase resources and funding for dance. Dance UK and the NCA will be working with their members to use the Manifesto as a tool to influence legislative change. We all need to take individual action, to create co-ordinated pressure on MPs and councillors, persuading them to re-assess the importance of dance in their funding agendas.
- Write to your local MP, Councillors and Mayor by the end of 2006
Many MPs and local councillors just don’t know how many dance organisations and facilities are in their constituencies or how many of their voters enjoy and benefit from dance. Write to your local MP and councillors, highlighting your organisation, how many local people you reach and the benefits of dance to local people.
Tell them about the new Dance Manifesto and identify the key ambitions it includes that relate to you, and urge them to support the Manifesto and to join the new All Party Parliamentary Dance Group.
- Invite your MP, Councillor or Mayor to visit you once by June 2007
End your letter with an invitation to come and visit you, perhaps to see a show, class, rehearsal or your facilities. If you are a teacher you could invite them to present examination certificates and invite the local paper to take a picture. Send the picture to us too, and we’ll run it in a subsequent issue of Dance UK! (see page….)
- Tell Dance UK when you write to MPs and Councillors
Let us know when you send your letter and who you are writing to. Dance UK will also send a letter supporting your work and stressing you are part of a national network of dance professionals reaching millions of voters.
- Add your name to the list of Dance Manifesto supporters
Go to www.danceuk.org and click on Pledge Your Support to add your name as an individual or organisation. If you don’t have access to a computer call Dance UK on 020 7228 4990 and we’ll add your name.
- Dance Summit
As part of Dance Umbrella, Dance UK organised A Chance for Dance - Be heard not just seen, a two part event focusing on the Dance Manifesto. The event was held at the Lilian Baylis Theatre on Wednesday 4 October.
To download the Dance Manifesto visit www.danceuk.org