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Successful dance policies and programs

October 17, 200517 October 2005

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This report provides a brief summary of dance programs, policies and challenges in various countries. Some challenges that a number of countries are grappling with in the development of dance include: professional development beyond pre-entry training; support for proven choreographers and performers; affordable and accessible space for rehearsal and development; building and sustaining touring networks; low remuneration for dance practitioners; and career insecurity.

The report provides information and references about initiatives such as the Canada Council’s pilot program to encourage creation-based partnerships between presenters and artists. (See for more information.)

Different types of supports are available for dance in specific countries. In Germany, some of the leading dance companies are tied to the corporate structure and finances of opera houses. In France, in order to make dance better available outside of Paris, the government selected and supported “dynamic young choreographers” to relocate and establish companies in regional centres.

A 1989 British report (Stepping Forward) was seen to be instrumental in improving the situation of dance in that country, helping to move it from a “deeply demoralised and nervous profession” that believed that “there is a creative crisis in British dance” to a “stronger, healthier and, in audience terms, more popular” sector. A broad-ranging approach was taken to ensure the development of the sector, “from education and training, through support for new work, to touring and other distribution”. Particular emphasis was placed on “an audience rather than artist-centred approach to resource allocation”. All is not perfect in British dance, however: Problems that remain include salaries, salary progression, working conditions, professional development, and a shortage of male dancers.

The report points to the British experience as a success story: “Despite dance’s small audiences, and despite its reliance on public funding, with the right level of political will and administrative cooperation, it is possible to effect very significant change for the better. That is the challenge.”

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