As the reports from the individual sessions continue to come in, this list will be added to - along with any other suggestions other people want to contribute independently.
From Donald Hutera's session:
- Talk openly.
- Use your contacts and share your contacts.
- Be champions for each other.
- Tally statistics, figures on commissioning, etc
- Use press contacts to help pressure venues
- Tell Arts Council that the independent sector says ‘This is what we need’
- Women: advocate and champion for each other
- Claim space, not to take on masculine traits to be successful / listened to. BE. Put yourself forward, have a voice.
- Tabular annually the top ten venues and/or organisations re numbers and figures vis a vis men/women, commissions, etc. We also need stats on dancers, choreographers, gender split from training – working - leadership
- Use of Dance UK/National agencies to target/lobby/inform programmers?
From the gatekeepers/decision-makers session:
- As suggested by Niamh de Valera of Blue Elephant Theatre, what about collaborations between independent artists and fringe venues?
- Acknowledge artists. This is an action point.
- As Donald Hutera urged us in his session, rely on 'polite persistence' to engage with gatekeepers
- Use and expand your networks
- Focus on building relationships
- We need to increase the visibility of smallscale work, and to make it more accessible to critical acclaim.
From the session on how fringe venues can help:
- Hold longer runs so that more industry and press can see work-in-progress
- Hold preview runs before a piece is 'completed' tp drum up support and publicity for later
- Hold industry nights – like a smaller/fringe version of “British Dance ...”
- Luke Jennings said that Monday nights might be good for getting more established dance writers to cover fringe venues
- We discussed how nowhere publishes all the small-scale dance listings any more as Time Out used to do
- Overall, there was a feeling that we should try to network and share knowledge and advocate for female choreographers.
From the session on male/female vision/gaze in choreography:
- Encouraging more adventurous programming of less “popular” work on a regular (eg monthly) basis. Should be part of a venue/institution’s remit if they are in receipt of ACE funding.
- Ways to encourage learning to talk about dance to enable better quality of feedback and discussion about works and their choreographic merit.
- Audience development, for example programming Scratch Nights to get audience feedback. From experience I have some reservations about too many of these crowding out programming of more
- finished work in tight schedules, and offering no guarantee that audiences will return to see the finished work and pay a full ticket price.
From the session on accommodating motherhood:
- Campaign for better artists’ pay to make the possibility of being able to call on paid childcare as needed more realistic.
- Find strategies to support emerging women choreographers aged 30-35 years so that they can contemplate taking a motherhood break.
- Encourage a longer view of choreographic careers, and discourage prejudices that see artistic work as only for the young or for men, by actively supporting the work of mature artists.
- Explore different family-friendly work schedules.
From the final session on What Do We Want?
- Everybody needs to keep making a noise. Don't be afraid to challenge the norm. Say what we see: we can all write and/or blog online. And others can provide platforms for our words.
- We must seek and provide support for female choreographers, including through writing and mentoring.
- Help each other out. Ask for help if you need it, and don't worry about how that's perceived; we asked if women are too independent.
- Networks are needed, especially of 'more mature' (female) artists, and also of artists with children,
- We should also make a stand on offering better pay for women (eg choreographers and dancers) to make a statement about the value we place on ourselves, and also to ensure longevity in the artform. [Actually paying female artists more than male would be legally murky, though].
- Dance UK was identified as a specific contact point as a voice for the dance, and therefore female sector, and therefore coverage of this issue by them would be very beneficial in gaining more support.
- Open discussions with programmers who we feel able to approach.
- We discussed publication options: independent publications which we felt would be sympathetic towards the issue of female choreographers and artists and who might volunteer to publish an article (eg Dancing Times) or dedicate a whole magazine (eg Dance UK) to this topic; for the latter, it would be relevant because it's a topic which affects their members. This led to the question of who do we want to reach?
- We agreed that the problem fundamentally lies with the structure of the artform and that things can't change until the underlying structure changes. But we can do what we can in the meantime, rather than do nothing.
- Choreographers should put in higher rates of pay for artists in their funding applications: we need to support each other, not exploit each other.
- Ask a writer to write (online) about your work; this helps to give your work an extended life.
From Dr Sara Houston's notes on what higher education institutions can do:
- More female dance academics to sit on Boards of dance organisations. Boards are the top level of governance for many organisations and being one step removed from the politics of the dance sector, academics can be seen as more neutral, but with expertise and understanding of the field. (I myself chair the Board of People Dancing where the majority of Board members are female). (In general I think this is something independent female dance artists could do)
- Dance students need to be aware of what their female (and male) lecturers/teachers are doing with dance organisations. Lecturers/teachers are often role models.
- Since they are role models, female academics with children could be open about working and having children at the same time.
- Dance organisations to call upon female academics to chair public debates (chairing is a role that most academics are experienced in) or take part in panel discussions that are in their area of expertise, or be part of a judging panel (academics/teachers judge all the time). HEIs to make more clear that this is something that they could offer to organisations.
- (dance) HEIs to commission research into whether there is a gender bias when teaching and then do something about it if they are.
- To actively point out when teaching gender issues about any institutional bias that is currently seen in the dance sector (so not just within dance works but the socio-cultural environment in which they take place) and bring it as a point of debate for students.
- To use examples of organisations with female leads for examples within lectures.
- To link vocational modules, such as arts management, explicitly to other modules on gender issues.
- Academics to mentor recent high flying minority (ie female, BME, disabled) graduates
- HEIs to double check that their residencies and other opportunities for dance artists conform to gender (and BME and disabled) equality.
- To support through collaboration more organisations and indie artists, particularly on projects which have a minority (ie female, BME, disabled) lead.
- To encourage female students to attend leadership workshops that are sometimes offered by HEIs and to attend and give presentations at conferences.