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Wales Wide Training Programme
Date posted: 18 June 2021
The WWTP creates and connects a network of 19 organisations and 300 individuals working across Wales. Tracey Brown, Mentoring, Training, Development Leader at Rubicon Dance explains how the programme has responded to the pandemic and that there have been achievements that wouldn't have been possible pre-COVID.

What is the Wales Wide Training Programme (WWTP?)

The WWTP is managed by Rubicon Dance and creates and connects a network of nineteen organisations and three hundred individuals working together to support training and professional development for the community dance sector across Wales. WWTP responds to sector need and is primarily a training programme for those working in dance across Wales. The programme is supported through Arts Council of Wales.

What does it aim to achieve?

To inspire and sustain community dance in Wales by providing training in a strategic way, responsive to sector need.

“I have never felt so connected to dance across Wales as I have through Wales Wide Training Programme” Dance Practitioner.

The WWTP was established in 2013 with seven community dance organisations as partners. At the beginning of 2021 there are eighteen partners that include not only community dance organisations, but venues, universities and national companies from across Wales including Powys, Carmarthen, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Caernarfon, Monmouthshire, Ceredigion, Cardiff, Llanelli and Flintshire. Research and consultation revealed strong demand for a training programme that responded to the strategic needs of the sector. The WWTP began with four strands in 2013 and now has nineteen strands some of which have been established in response to need and developed throughout the pandemic.

As the pandemic hit in March 2020 every strand of the WWTP was adapted in terms of timings of sessions via Zoom, costings, offering packages and series of training programmes rather than the pre COVID format of one day of CPD per term which took place across Wales and was hosted by WWTP partners.

One to one and small group sessions were introduced to the programme from May 2020 as freelance dance practitioners were losing work and needed support and practitioners turned to WWTP to gain support. Recent dance graduates were offered a WWTP information session and this was organised along with one of our WWTP partners National Youth Arts Wales. The dance graduates were then encouraged to attend events that were relevant to them eg Inspirational Speaker Series, Skills Share Sessions, Network Meetings and Best Practice Forums.

141 individuals working in the dance sector across Wales have engaged with WWTP throughout the pandemic alone and we have reached 1,340 attendances (May 2020 - June 2021). We have been able to offer programmes that in pre COVID times would have been more difficult to organise eg six Arts on Prescription Series including various health boards across Wales and an Inspirational Speaker Series which included Sharon Watson DL, Laura Jones, Tom Hobden, Wayne McGregor, Andrew George and Kerry Nicholls. We also have a wonderful seven year partnership with Fallen Angels Dance Theatre and during October/November 2020 were able to organise joint sessions with Wales based dance practitioners, Paul Kitcher, Artistic Director and Claire Morris, Executive Director and the amazing Angels, dancers in recovery from addictions.

We have also been able to set up Evaluation sessions led by Dr Susanne Burns and in total forty practitioners have signed up for a series of these sessions which led to a Best Practice Forum, Evaluation focus in March 2021.

Another really important new strand of WWTP are the Creative Practice Support Sessions led by Cai Tomos, Dance Artist and Art Psychotherapist which is open to no more than six dance practitioners per session. Creative Practice Support Sessions are for those who facilitate creative arts activities within participatory contexts in settings such as hospitals, care homes, schools and day centres. These sessions are based on offering a space that can support practitioners in reflecting on their practice and the impact of their groups and context/or organisation on what they do, how they do it, and how they feel about it.

"The Creative Practice Support session were an invaluable lifeline to me during the autumn term. Work was scarce and I was losing faith in my creativity, skills and knowledge. I was looking to a career change away from the arts as I could nott see a viable future for myself. The dancing and talking sessions were so valuable to remind me of why I dance, why dance is important (and essential) and that there is always a way to make it work. The sessions were expertly led and I felt supported and in safe hands throughout. The Creative Practice Support sessions brought us together, to move together and the power of that cannot be underestimated." Freelance Dance Practitioner.

Some practitioners from across Wales have said that they are joining more training and events via Zoom as travel and accommodation is no longer an issue and therefore these costs are cut back so they up-skilling and connecting through more regular training with other practitioners from across the country. There is no charge to attend some events e.g. policy forums, best practice forums and various sessions are £15 and a whole package of sessions (around six) is £50. For many years WWTP has offered several free spaces for freelancers to attend training events and practitioners have also been encouraged to attend sessions they wish at no cost to them if funds are currently an issue as is the case for many practitioners who have lost work throughout the pandemic. However, I cannot wait for the day when we can travel across Wales and one of the WWTP partners can host an event on their patch as in pre COVID times!

The WWTP strands includes the following events which have all been adapted to take place via Zoom:

  1. CPD training programmes
  2. x3 free spaces per CPD for freelancers to access training and sometimes a WWTP partner will sponsor an additional CPD space
  3. x6 Bursary Awards (for practitioners)
  4. Strategy Meetings for the partners
  5. Policy Forum
  6. Best Practice Forums
  7. Mutual Exchange Programme (for partners)
  8. Dance Leader Exchange Programme (for practitioners)
  9. Evaluation Forums
  10. Dance for Parkinson’s Forums (on the back of a very successful Dance for Parkinson’s training with People Dancing, WWTP, Rubicon and Cardiff Metropolitan University)
  11. Seed funding Dance for Parkinson's programmes across Wales
  12. Skills Sharing Sessions to include Sensing Welsh – developing bilingual practice through the body, Dance, Digital and Participation, Children and Young People and Dance for Older People
  13. Community dance apprentice training programmes in line with National Occupational Standards in Dance Leadership with certification being signed off for each apprentice by People Dancing, with NOS being accepted by Creative and Cultural Skills Council UK
  14. Mentor development programme for those supporting apprentices through their training programmes
  15. WWTP films (the most recent currently being made is a short film to demonstrate the impact of WWTP on practitioners throughout the pandemic)
  16. Graduate information sessions
  17. One to one sessions via Zoom
  18. Network Meetings
  19. Creative Practice Support Sessions.

Throughout the pandemic so far (May 2020 - June 2021) 128 events and opportunities have been organised for the dance sector across Wales through WWTP.

"WWTP has been incredible during the pandemic. It has been a real lifeline with tangible opportunities to connect, learn and develop and allowed me to be me. WWTP made me realise my value and gave me the motivation that I needed to not let that spark of me go out" Independent Dance Practitioner.





Other reading and personal perspectives from practitioners that have been involved in the WWTP