On Thursday 11 June, we hosted our first Let’s Talk About… virtual meet up over zoom – facilitating and enabling local Arts and Culture professionals to share their thoughts, feelings and questions regarding the sectors’ current state and future.
Our topic of discussion was ‘What are the conversations and who should be having them?’. With permission from the group, we wanted to share a few highlights with you. Please bear in mind, this discussion took place in an open and safe environment, and the highlights that follow are not that solely of DanceEast but an insight into the personal views, comments and debates shared by those who attended. Our hope in sharing this with you is that it may spark ideas or indeed encourage further discussion.
HOW CAN WE ‘BUILD BACK BETTER’
“There’s a massive responsibility to be a stable figure and absorb anxieties. To look like you know what you’re doing, and what the future will look like.”
Across the board, the group raised concerns about what a return to dance studios means for dance artists – how will this impact their practice and engagement with the public? Questioning, what must change in order to make it a safe return and how will this affect the dance experience?
As dance practitioners leading a class or workshop, there is a responsibility to be the voice of support and guidance – with increased fear and reduced confidence in public spaces how should this be managed and approached – as an individual, and within a room of participants?
TO BE, OR NOT TO BE… DIGITAL?
The natural, knee-jerk response for many was to create a digital programme to sustain engagement. However, it was acknowledged that many within the sector lack digital expertise to realise their practice in the virtual world or, just as importantly, may not be interested in making digital work.
Is digital the best way to maintain relationships with our audience, and create meaningful ones with new audiences? There’s no doubt that there are benefits to going digital; digital classes help tackle travel barriers, among others – but accessibility and interest is key to our practice so we must ask ourselves; what about those who can’t or won’t access digital programmes, and how do we connect with those who are more isolated? Innovation doesn’t have to mean digital.
TAKING TIME: IT’S OKAY TO SIT BACK AND SAY, I DON’T KNOW HOW TO DO THIS.
The culture of working until burnout within the dance sector is unfortunately nothing new – but could this be the time to take a step back, re-assess the habits or norms that we clutch to and perhaps even prevent a sector-wide burn out? Can these circumstances allow us to re-evaluate the structure, expectations and ‘function’ of our community?
“When lockdown first happened, I started doing online classes straight away – asking myself how can I stay relevant? After a few weeks I started feeling overwhelmed, were my classes still authentic? It was almost becoming quantity over quality. So, I’ve taken a break from it, and taken masterclasses for myself to learn new skills. It’s okay to sit back and say I don’t know how to do this.”
To conclude the conversation, the last question was whose responsibility is it to lead change and offer creative solutions? It was widely felt that decisions in the arts and culture sector thus far have generally been made top-down. With this in mind, how can the freelance workforce be better resourced, supported and involved in leading conversations around what the future looks like? Whose voices do we need to hear more of?
“Take advantage of this time now – make honest errors and learn from them, you don’t have to figure this out alone.”
Want to join the conversation? Take part in our next Let’s Talk About… session on Thursday 9 July, 12.30pm. Click here to book now.