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POP look back and survey
Date posted: 09 August 2021
Assistant Producer, Perspectives on Practice, Ciara Lynch looks back at the first season of People Dancing's programme of events, learning opportunities, discussion, networks and spaces for dancers, teaching artists, community practitioners and organisations to gather, (re)connect and share.

The Perspectives on Practice (POP) programme began in April 2021. Since then, we have seen nearly 30 workshops programmed with over 400 people booked on. The new September – December programme 2021 has 28 events planned and we hope to see even bigger numbers at these.

POP was created to support the dance sector at a crucial time. It was intended as a way for People Dancing members and non-members to come together to continue learning and developing professionally while most opportunities in the industry stagnated. It has become a place of sharing, encouragement, support and breathing space while our industry was under attack by coronavirus restrictions.

By the time I joined People Dancing in March 2021, the world had embraced the ‘digital revolution’, as Peter Laycock said in his Moving, in and out of lockdown blog. Delivering workshops on Zoom to participants from all over the world didn’t seem so odd. We have grown accustomed to working in our bedrooms or kitchens, dodging cats or children as we dance with a wooden spoon or other household item. Conversations with artists are more technical and use commonplace phrases like ‘breakout rooms’, ‘screensharing’, ‘spotlighting’ and use these techniques creatively. It is important to remember how far we have come since March 2020 and how useful these types of programmes are for gathering with like-minded people (even if we are on mute…). 100% of responders would recommend a People Dancing online event to other dance artists working in community contexts.

In response to the question ‘what did you find most useful about the event?’, POP participants answered in many ways:

‘Truly inspiring work; motivational and empowering. Loads of new ideas and different ways of looking at things I've done before.’

‘The community spirit and welcoming environment.’

‘Discovering two incredible artists who are representing neurodiversity!’

‘Just enjoyable to be able to talk about concerns and plans and ideas.’

While we celebrate our achievements, we also need to recognise how much further we still need to go. Moving everything to digital delivery is not a like-for-like swap for in-person workshops. This has had a big impact on our evaluation responses and ‘no-shows’ for events.. Is it because digital delivery feels less personal?

We greatly appreciate the responses we do get as they are most definitely being used to improve the programme. But it is not a whole picture.

Most of the attendees of the POP programmes join us from all around the UK, with some participants based as far afield as Canada, Mexico and Japan! The huge benefit of this programme to increase access to practitioners from all over the world has not been lost on us. The workshops rarely take place at the same time of day. We recognise that participants have different needs and responsibilities, so we hope to offer a range of times that people have the option to attend.

Our recent call out saw an overwhelming response proving to us that there is definitely a need for further sharing opportunities of this kind. We were amazed by original ideas and radical proposals for change. We will take the month of August to reflect and implement meaningful changes to the programme, continuing our commitment to diversity and inclusion while creating thought provoking and practical content.

We have a diverse line-up planned for September – December so keep an eye on our website and monthly newsletters to find out more. We would love to see you at an event soon!

If you attended a POP event during April 2021 – July 2021 we would greatly appreciate your participation in our short end of season survey:

Perspectives on Practice Survey

We also continue to encourage feedback from participants. Please get in touch with ciara@communitydance.org.uk