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Animated Edition - Winter 2011
Dance in a cold climate?
It can't have escaped anyone's notice that times are tough. Chris Stenton, Development Director at FCD shares some thoughts about how with some creative thinking, the people we work with might just be the big society we are looking for
Image: Chris Stenton
Almost every day brings more news about cuts to public spending. There has been much in the press about arts funding, with a bias that 'the arts' - as if one homogenous entity - is a 'luxury we just can't afford'. Arts Council England is about to make some very difficult choices about funding. The response from local authorities across the UK, major donors to community dance, range from the slash and burn approach of Somerset County Council to the more measured though no less painful response from Birmingham City Council. We can expect more to come.

Unemployment is increasing; household budgets are more stretched that ever; people have less disposable income, and are thinking harder about how to spend it. There is much talk about 'Big Society' - isn't that what community dance has always been about? The government plans £80million of match funding for arts philanthropy. I'm highly sceptical that current notions of philanthropy or greater business sponsorship work for community dance: I'm not sure we're sexy enough, enough of the time, for sponsorship of scale, and organisationally we'll find it hard to develop individual donations in a significant way any time soon.

However, I really don't think it's all bad news. Lottery funding to the arts will increase to the original 20% share by April 2012. Artists, teachers and organisations are talking about collaboration and alliance much more - working together, sharing the load, working smarter not harder. And then there are the 4.8 million people that take part in community dance, and the 10 million that watch. They're not going anywhere and will still be dancing whatever happens. Therein, I think, lies the opportunity: aren't these people our new philanthropists? With some creative thinking and challenges to the more traditional notions of philanthropy, I genuinely believe that, together, we could create something really quite special.

Ironically this article has been cut short so we could fit in an extra paid-for advert! So, in the spirit of adaptability and to keep this thread of debate live, we've set up a new section on FCD's website as a space for sharing ideas, resources and current thinking:

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Animated: Winter 2011