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Strategic touring programme

The 11 Million Reasons to Dance strategic touring programme is taking an integrated offer of performance, participation, development and training opportunities to six locations across the Midlands and North of England, all aimed at engaging Deaf and disabled people in areas of low engagement with the arts.

The 11 Million Reasons to Dance photography exhibition and short films are also featured in the programme, along with a touring ‘Interactive Booth’ that will invite visitors to create their own ‘11 Million Reasons’ iconic dance moment from film.

Funded under the Arts Council England strategic touring programme, and sponsored by The Unloved, the programme was inspired by the 11 Million Reasons to Dance photography exhibition.

Project partners
Project partners include Doncaster Community Arts, Tin Arts, ArtsNK, The Brindley/Halton Borough CouncilCoventry Performing Arts Service and Cheshire Dance. They are all collaborating with local venues, dance artists, education establishments and cultural agencies to create an exciting programme of dance development and touring to new audiences in six locations at:

The Belgrade Theatre
– Coventry
The Point – Doncaster
Gala Theatre – Durham
South Holland Centre – Spalding, Lincolnshire
Middlesbrough – venue to be confirmed
The Brindley - Runcorn, Cheshire
Cheshire Dance.

Coventry University will be leading a robust evaluation report on the programme to help future arts provision that is aimed at, and created by, Deaf, sight impaired and disabled people, thereby supporting the legacy for touring and participation.

What's in the 11 Million Reasons to Dance programme?
  • The 11 Million Reasons to Dance photography exhibition inspired by iconic dance moments from film, reimagined by Deaf, sight impaired and disabled people who dance
  • A People Dancing Deaf, sight impaired and disabled people short film programme
  • An ‘interactive dance booth’ to capture the public’s imagination and experience of the exhibition and give them an opportunity to create their own 11 Million Reasons image
  • A community engagement/audience development programme, including performances by local participants, as well as performance work by professional Deaf, sight impaired and disabled artists and companies
  • An Associate Artist’s Residency to help develop venue relationships with Deaf, sight impaired and disabled artists
  • A training and development programme for venues and cultural agencies, based on accessibility and engagement with Deaf, sight impaired and disabled people - as audiences, artists and participants. Presented in partnership with Shape Arts, Unlimited and Stopgap Dance Co.
  • Professional training and resources for leaders delivering participation work, led by Kate Marsh and Welly O’Brien
  • Promotional films, a digital photography exhibition and resources to share information and good practice.

Pulp Fiction: reimagined by dance artist Kate Marsh (pictured) and Sean Goldthorpe, at The Brindley

The Red Shoes: reimagined by dance artist Welly O’Brien (pictured) and Sean Goldthorpe, also at The Brindley

Tour brings 11 million reasons to be cheerful!




The 11 Million Reasons to Dance strategic touring project is now making a major impact on cultural partners, working with venues and communities across the country.
The initiative’s photographic exhibition and engagement strand, including performances and workshops, has already made its mark in Runcorn, Spalding, Doncaster and Durham. The tour, soon also to roll into Coventry and Middlesbrough, has featured performances by professional artists Kate Marsh and Welly O’Brien, plus Stopgap Dance Company, as well as local dance groups and artists.

Speaking after a sell-out audience for Best Foot Forward, Durham’s long established inclusive dance and arts platform, at The Gala Theatre, People Dancing Associate Director Vanessa Oxspring, commented: “What an incredible night! The way all the featured groups embraced the themes raised by Sean Goldthorpe’s stunning images, exhibited in the weeks before the performance, was hugely impressive.

“All this has the makings of a deeper relationship between People Dancing and all 11 Million Reasons to Dance partners in the six locations, promising the development of better quality, higher profile arts experiences for Deaf, disabled and sight impaired people.”

Martin Wilson, Executive Director of local partner TIN Arts, added: “It’s been a real pleasure and delight to work with People Dancing… the exhibition has been a real hit in Durham (and) the CPD workshop with Welly and Kate was excellent.”

Barbara Gubbins , Chief Executive of County Durham Community Foundation, was equally pleased, saying: “… it has been a pleasure to be involved with such a worthwhile project. Sean Goldthorpe’s images were absolutely inspiring. Thanks to everyone for making it happen… we were delighted with the quality and professionalism of the activities.”

People Dancing presented a training and development event at Leicester’s Curve Theatre, in January, as part of the programme, that attracted more than 100 delegates.

So what’s next? People Dancing is now working with the partner locations to support Deaf and disabled artists to be part of an artist in residency programme. It is also planning more presentations and will be developing a legacy plan.
Interactive Booth

People Dancing commissioned an Interactive Booth to accompany the photography exhibition at partner venues. Using touch screen technology, this invites visitors to create an image of their own reimagined iconic dance moment from film. The booth also captures audience feedback from the exhibition.
Stopgap Dance Company
joins community, in Doncaster

The February-March showing of the 11 Million Reasons to Dance photography exhibition at The Point, in Doncaster, earlier this year, was accompanied by a live performance given by Stopgap Dance Company, joined by local community dance groups, on 9 February.
There was dancing in Durham, as 'remarkable' images hit Gala Theatre


The 11 Million Reasons to Dance photography exhibition rolled into Durham from 8-28 March, brought to the city’s Gala Theatre by TIN Arts, in partnership with Durham County Council and supported by County Durham Community Foundation.

Martin Wilson, Director of TIN Arts said, “11 Million Reasons to Dance is an important exhibition that questions all our perceptions of the capabilities or expectations of Deaf, sight impaired and disabled people who love to dance.”

Jo Cundall, Arts Programme Manager at Durham County Council, called Sean Goldthorpe’s images “remarkable…beautiful, engaging and celebratory”, adding: “They arrest you because you feel you know them so well, and then the differences make you stop and reconsider them.”

The exhibition inspired Best Foot Forward, an evening of dance and performing arts created and performed by artists with a learning disability from across the North East. The event was staged by The Gala Theatre, on 28 March and featured ‘The Gallery’, a feature-length, in-house production from TIN Arts.
What's on

Live Dance Performances

9 February 2017 - 1.00pm
Stopgap Dance Company - 'Crossing Borders'

The Point, Doncaster

22 February 2017 - 7.00pm
Stopgap Dance Company & local community dance groups

South Holland Centre

28 March 2017 - 7.30pm
Best Foot Forward & local community groups, with Kate Marsh & Welly O'Brien

Gala Theatre

17 June 2017 - 7.00pm
Kate Marsh & Welly O'Brien, with local dance artists/community dance groups

Belgrade Theatre

Training workshops

29 March - 1.00-4.00pm
North East dance artists with Kate Marsh & Welly O'Brien
TIN Arts
Old School House
Front Street
Framwellgate Moor


21-23 March
Screening of Singin' in the Rain
Gala Theatre

Providing Better Arts Experiences for Disabled People - January 2017
As part of its 11 Million Reasons to Dance programme and in partnership with Unlimited, Shape Arts and Stopgap Dance Company, People Dancing staged a one-day training event at Curve, Leicester in late January 2017

Chicago revisited: commissioned by People Dancing,
photography Sean Goldthorpe

About the event

This Continuous Professional Development (CPD) initiative helped arts organisations:
  • Develop their accessibility for and engagement with disabled people as audiences and participants
  • Engage disabled people in dance participation programmes who haven’t previously taken part
  • Develop a programming approach to including professional dance performance by disabled dance artists and companies
  • See professional work performed live by a selection of disabled dance artists and companies. 
The event looked at working inclusively for disabled people, using appropriate language and terminology, making buildings accessible and developing staff knowledge and skills. The afternoon sessions focused on specialist strands for specific departments, teams of people or sets of skills, exploring scenarios and the detail of both day-to-day working and long-term planning.

The day, which was organised primarily for partners in People Dancing’s 11 Million Reasons to Dance programme but was also open to other arts organisations and dance practitioners, looked to inspire a more confident and inclusive approach to engaging disabled people.