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Animated Edition - Autumn 2006
Putting Wales in the frame
Gillian Dale, Development Director, Community Dance Wales
When I joined Community Dance Wales (CDW) nearly seven years ago the most important piece of work I inherited was the research into the training and professional development needs of our sector. My first task was to respond to that slightly desperate plea by turning the research into a funded initiative, which could begin to fulfill some of those very real needs for the profession in Wales. The 'Steps in Time' training and development programme for community dance practitioners across Wales was born.

More recently I found myself, on a long train ride across Wales, trying to tease out the template for some kind of system, which would help our members place themselves within the learning curve of professional practice, something which could guide their personal development in order to maximise the opportunities being provided by 'Steps in Time' and other continuing professional development programmes.

Our most successful practitioners are usually those who, with professional integrity and honest self-appraisal, believe in the necessity of on-going exploration and learning of their craft.

The Framework may provide tools to help them:
  • Be able to measure/bench mark where they are starting from
  • Plan for where they want to be
  • Know the possible routes for how to get there
  • Be able to access help and guidance along the way
  • Be valued along their journey.
CDW's first step has been to ask all members to sign up to a 'Statement of Shared Values', which clarifies our underlying principles and ensures a common ethos at the heart of the organisation. The Framework is possibly the second step towards voluntary 'professionalisation' of our particular creative industry and a move towards setting 'minimum standards' for professional practitioners - always striving to ensure the highest quality dance experience for all.

I was delighted but not surprised to discover, in one of my regular meetings with colleagues at the Foundation, that they had been thinking along very similar lines and recognising similar challenges. As our sector continues to grow and succeed in creating and exploring dance to meet the objectives of the wider social and political agenda, we increasingly find ourselves needing to ensure that representatives of other sectors understand and respect our profession. We must establish ways to validate our treasury of experience, give due credit to our accumulated knowledge and 'bench-mark' our myriad approaches to successful practice within this most diverse of careers. If we allow others to impose formal, traditional qualifications as the only accredited route - what value community dance would then lose!

It is crucial that we work together to take ownership of our future. So the commitment with which the Foundation has set about tackling this tricky problem has been very welcome to CDW and we are willing foot soldiers in helping to develop a Framework which can be truly national, adapting to the often transient nature of the profession and the need for dance artists to be able to follow their own path of life-long learning in a way which is valued and recognised across the UK.

contact training@communitydancewales.com

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Animated: Autumn 2006