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Animated Edition - Spring 2003
If only I could find a dance manager... I would be able to...
Head of Dance at London Arts, Jacqueline Rose, charts the development of initiatives designed to support the professional development of independent dance managers in London, that span almost a decade
This is a familiar plea from dance artists, companies and a need endorsed by agencies and venues. I think we are all agreed that the people dedicated to making the connection between artists and audiences are in short supply. If we do not address this issue now there certainly will not be enough of them in the future to support the wealth of creativity in the sector and respond to audience demands.

'A thriving independent sector is vital to the health of dance in the UK, its audiences and its artists. The sector is likely to become more competitive in the coming years. Independent artists and companies will need more and stronger management in order to succeed in the future' Independent Dance Managers' Review - Nigel Hinds & Kathy O'Brien 2002. (1)

The issue of the fragility of the independent dance management infrastructure has been on the dance agenda of the funding system for a number of years. In order to respond to this, there have been a number of strategies taken at national and regional level to address this issue. To take but a few examples: bursaries, fellowships, professional development retreats, seminar programmes, dance management traineeships over the years it is worth taking stock and reviewing what has been achieved in London for independent dance managers over the years.

Policy into practice
Dance administration development programme

In the early-mid 1990's the programmes focused on supporting dance administrators to work with dance companies at a certain point of artistic development with the aim of developing administrators through servicing companies. Whilst this funding provided a period of reasonable security for both parties and the opportunities for organisational growth of companies like Random and BiMa, there were limited options for career development for the administrator working on one to two days a week in relative isolation meaning they soon moved onto other opportunities which then impacted on a company's development as they struggled to find a replacement.

Time to review
In recognising the limitations of this programme and a desire to follow through some of the outcomes of the Independent Dance Review 1998 by Gill Clarke and Rachel Gibson (2), the dance unit commissioned Dance Administration in London - Ways Forward by Julia Carruthers, Assis Carreiro & Clare Cooper (3) with the aim of reviewing the use of the available funding to serve the sector more effectively and considering a range of options to secure a stronger framework for dance management in the future that would provide accessible administration services to a wider range of independent artists in London.

Creation of an independent dance management agency
The recommendations from the 'Dance Administration in London - Way Forward' led to the creation of an independent dance management agency based in Brixton called independance (4) with a broad remit that included: Artist Management Services, One-to-One advice sessions and a Dance Management Trainee programme. The organisation provided comprehensive support services for artists alongside the training of two dance managers over a period of 18 months. This two-year pilot initiative provided London Arts with the opportunity of monitoring a number of initiatives.

It is worth highlighting the success of this training model as the result was producing two independent dance managers who now have their own agencies, you may be familiar with them and the range of artists they support: Isabel Tamen Management Agency (5) for Henri Oguike and Farooq Chaudhry with Dansoffice for Akram Khan (6) now currently supported independently.

A simple but effective formula that is critically dependent on commitment, hard work and the ability to be accommodating from all sides. Without a doubt this pilot informed the next phase of training of dance managers for the future for London Arts.

Dance managers trainee programme
So, building on this successful model and with more funding available, the next phase was refined and this is where we are now with a programme for trainee dance managers over a two-year period. Now, London Arts is supporting other key agencies like Cue (7), UK Foundation for Dance (8) Sarah Trist (9) and Turtle Key (10) who have provided all provide training programmes for managers since 2000.

Training seminars
Once this training programme was up and running with each individual dance manager, the potential of extending this programme became clear as the trainees were regularly attending the open seminar series run by the dance unit as part of their programme. These open seminars run by the dance unit that included sessions on: raising sponsorship, the relationship between artistic directors and managers, tour booking, media relations for artists etc. It was at this point it seemed appropriate to produce a specially designed professional development programme for the trainers and the trainees to complement the other professional development opportunities available, as both needed further support. Delivered by June Gamble (11), an experienced manager working outside of London, this programme was developed in response to individual needs at all levels.

Four years on
This summer seemed an appropriate moment to take stock of where things were up for the sector against the background of a new funding system from 1 April 2003 and the potential following the DCMS Spending Review for increased funding to the arts.

So in July 2002, the dance unit commissioned Nigel Hinds and Kathy O'Brien to undertake the Independent Dance Managers' Review. (1) The objective of the review was to look at the current picture of freelance independent dance management and to make recommendations on how to plan for future investment in the sector.

What was interesting to learn from this review of the freelance dance management sector in London is that from a selected sample of eleven independent dance managers, it has been calculated that they are responsible for 47 dance artists/companies that are all currently active in the UK. In addition to this, the range of these individual managers' client portfolios lies between £125,000 and in some cases in excess of £500,000. If we add together, the current portfolios of just six of this sample group of managers the total value they manage is £1,705,000 and this includes minimal investment from the arts funding system!

The report has provided the funding system with clear recommendations. The key problem that has been identified is how to retain and develop a network of independent dance managers across the country that responds to the needs of the artists. In order to address these issues, the following areas are a priority for investment:

  • capacity building - individual dance managers, sub-regional dance management agencies & dance organisations with artist support programmes

  • professionalisation of the industry - appropriate standardisation of training, fees and services

  • professional development - providing appropriate training/professional development & creative opportunities for all dance managers/producers

  • partnerships with Further Education/Higher Education sectors and other training providers

  • advocacy - encouraging leadership & strengthening the voice of dance managers/producers at regional, national and international levels.

It is true to say we have come a long way from the mid 1990's as already progress has been made with a range of initiatives that include:

  • Establishment of an independent network for freelance independent dance managers working in London (7)

  • standardisation of the dance managers' training programme

  • standard appraisal system

  • standardisation of fee scales

  • some research to look at the potential for outsourcing/centralising services

  • formal professional development programme for individual managers

  • bursaries to support new independent dance managers.

To look at this list seems to contravene the desire for organic development of independent dance managers. Please be assured that these changes are not about creating 'chain stores of dance managers'! Clearly this would be detrimental to the industry given the individualistic nature of independent managers and the importance of the funding system to remain responsive to artists' individual needs. However, these interventions are a serious attempt to increase the profile of this sector in a way that complements other dance agencies' services and provides a diversity of management services for independent artists and have been recently drawn up by independent managers working in London.

I am confident that the issue of dance management for the sector has now been firmly pushed up the national and regional agendas for dance in the next phase of arts funding. With the emergence of the new funding system, there really is the potential to develop cross-regional partnerships supported by a more visible dance management infrastructure in the future and to develop other models as a result.

An action plan for 2004-06 is currently being devised in response to the priorities for the sector. So there is a lot of work to do and the progress will take time but if we all act on these recommendations across the UK we can all ensure that the independent sector continues to thrive as a creative industry and ensure that this country remains a strong player in producing diverse high quality work for audiences across the globe.

On a final and personal note, the success of where we are today is down to a number of committed dance managers and producers who have strongly believed in this agenda for London and have ultimately made progress for us all working in dance. My personal experience of working with these individuals has been extraordinary. Their collective energy, commitment and drive has been impressive. Do not stop now! On behalf of artists and audiences, thanks to you all.

Jacqueline Rose, Head of Dance at Arts Council England, London. email:

1) Independent Dance Managers' Review - Nigel Hinds & Kathy O'Brien - London Arts
2) Independent Dance Review 1998 - Gill Clarke & Rachel Gibson - Arts Council of England
3) Dance Administration in London - Way Forward 1998 - Julia Carruthers, Assis Carreiro & Clare Cooper - London Arts
4) independance - Tel: +44 (0)20 8674 1518
5) Isabel Tamen Dance Management Agency - email Tel: +44 (0)20 7226 5087
6) Dansoffice - Tel: +44 (0)20 7401 7337
7) CUE - Tel: +44 (0)1926 339640
8) UK Foundation for Dance - Tim Tubbs Tel: +44 (0)20 7258 1868
9) Sarah Trist Dance Management Agency Tel: +44 (0) 20 8541 5399
10) Turtle Key - Charlotte Cunningham - Tel: +44 (0)20 8964 5060
11) June Gamble - Freelance Arts Administrator & Consultant - Tel/Fax: +44 (0)1752 290527

The Independent Dance Managers' Network welcomes any freelance independent dance managers working in London/for London artists. For further information please contact:

Full details of the new grants programmes are available from each regional office. Applications can be made at any time from 1 April 2003 and there will be no deadlines. Info at

If you are interested in receiving a free copy of the Independent Dance Managers Review 2002 and/or action plan please contact Tel: +44 (0)20 7608 6134

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Animated: Spring 2003