Written evidence submitted by Dance Consortium
Dance Consortium is a unique network of nineteen
large-scale theatres across the UK, established to bring world-class
contemporary dance from around the world to audiences across the
In 2009-10, Dance Consortium presented 43 performances
of companies from the USA, the Netherlands and Cuba to audiences
in excess of 36,500; 22% were new to dance, 16% were new to the
theatre and 12% were young people, and average attendance across
all the performances was almost 70% of theatre capacity.
Dance Consortium enables more efficient and
effective touring than would be possible by theatres acting alone.
It is building the capacity of the theatres to engage audiences
with vibrant arts experiences that challenge and inspire. Over
the last decade, Dance Consortium has presented 23 tours of large-scale
international contemporary dance that have engaged over 400,000
The UK has an enviable international
reputation for the diversity and quality of its arts and heritage;
public funding has played a critical role in bringing this about.
Public subsidy for the arts results in
a range of benefits for the state, communities and individuals
and is a critical and integral part of the mixed economy of the
arts that includes earned, contributed and commercial elements.
Public subsidy enables organisations
to work collaboratively and innovatively as demonstrated by, for
example, Dance Consortium.
The prospect of cuts of 30% over 2011-12
would be regressive and have a serious impact on the arts economy,
for example the knock-on effect could result in Dance Consortium
no longer being viable.
In the context of the tiny proportion
of public expenditure spent on the arts and the extensive benefits
this brings, it is argued that public funding of the arts is excellent
value for money and that cuts should be minimised. Businesses
and philanthropists are unable to replace public funding or play
a significant role in the long-term funding of the arts, as demonstrated
by the experience of America.
The specialist focus of the current structure
is appropriate to the distinct nature of the different disciplines
of the arts and heritage businesses.
1. For Dance Consortium the cut of 0.5%
in the current year could be absorbed, but the impact of projected
cuts of 30% over 2011-14 would directly result in a cut in the
number of tours we would be able to present. Over the last three
years we have presented nine tours, thanks to funding additional
to our RFO allocation through Grants for the arts and Sustain
funding to address the impact of the recession on international
currency exchange rates, in particular with the dollar. We estimate
that the projected cuts would reduce the number of tours from
nine to six over 2011-14.
2. The impact of this reduction would extend
far beyond reducing opportunities for audiences and limiting the
diversity and vibrancy of our cultural live. It would threaten
the existence of Dance Consortium by minimising the diversity
of the tours we would be able to provide for the theatres that
in turn would halt the momentum that has been built up over the
last decade. We anticipate that some theatres would consider membership
of Dance Consortium to be no longer viable, and the loss of any
theatre would reduce the regional reach of Dance Consortium. Being
reliant on freelance experts is efficient at current levels of
activity, but requires a sufficient volume of work to sustain.
The knock-on effect of projected cuts could result in Dance Consortium
being no longer viable, but any significant reduction in activity
would be regressive and would result in a loss of confidence and
faith that is unlikely to be recovered.
3. A number of the theatres are facing cuts
in their local authority funding and experiencing price-resistance
due to the economic difficulties being faced by their audiences.
This means that Dance Consortium tours are increasingly important
to the quality and diversity of the programmes they are able to
offer their local populations.
4. In the current economic circumstances,
there are no viable alternatives to Arts Council funding.
5. Dance Consortium is an example of arts
organisations working together to enhance the diversity and vibrancy
of our cultural life, creating opportunities for the public that
could not be achieved by working alone. Public funding is crucial
to such achievements.
6. Founded in 2000, Dance Consortium tours
have been made possible by funding from Arts Council England,
initially through Grants for the arts. This provided a period
for the testing and development of new ways of working that led
to Dance Consortium becoming a regularly funded organisation of
Arts Council England (RFO) in 2008. It is registered as a company
with charitable status and, as a consortium, is able to operate
without the overhead expenditure of a permanent office and staff.
Experts are engaged on a freelance basis to undertake specific
tasks such as tour management and website, marketing and technical
support. This way of working keeps overheads to a minimum, and
is only possible through the commitment and efforts of a voluntary
Board of Directors.
7. A good society is characterised by the
value it affords to its arts and heritage. The UK has an enviable
international reputation for the diversity and quality of its
arts and heritage; public funding has played a critical role in
bringing this about.
8. Funding for the arts and heritage is
tiny in the context of total government spending, but its impact
is extensive. There are economic benefits, for example in the
payment of VAT and other taxes, promoting tourism, and attracting
inward investment to disadvantaged areas. According to the DCMS
figures published in February 2010, the creative industries contributed
6.2% of the UK's Gross Value Added in 2007 and 4.5% of all good
and services exported. There are also benefits for education,
health, social cohesion, raising aspiration, promoting volunteering
and social cohesion, creating communities of interest, promoting
our international reputation and cultural diplomacy. The public
value of subsidy lies in the capacity of the arts and heritage
to do many things at the same time. They tap into individual passions,
bring people together and present a vibrant image of the UK that
is the envy of the world.
9. Public funding is part of the dynamic
mix of the arts economy. It is the engine that drives the generation
of earned and contributed income for many organisations, and integral
to a sector that can boast a vibrant commercial aspect. Public
funding may provide the research, training and testing ground
for commercial success; it may enable the provision of cutting-edge
and high quality work that could not be commercially viable but
that creates impact and builds reputation. It also enables organisations
to collaborate, share expertise and experience to continually
improve efficiency and effectiveness.
10. For all these reasons, public subsidy
is essential to the arts economy. Any reduction in current levels
of funding would have a negative impact on the wider economy
11. There are many benefits in the specialist
focus of the current structure. The production, distribution and
business of the arts are different to those of heritage, and there
are significant differences between the arts disciplines. So,
having a government department responsible for culture (a term
that includes media and sport) working through specialist non-governmental
department bodies such as Arts Council England is the right structure.
12. In the arts, National Lottery funds
has created a number of world-class buildings and enabled a wide
range of projects that have had a major impact, such as in the
development of Dance Consortium. However, the arts have suffered
from the reduction in National Lottery funds, and the intention
to reinstate the proportion of funds distributed to the arts,
heritage and sport is welcome.