This was our opening session, called by Donald Hutera and attended by almost everyone, and in true Donald style, it rapidly digressed to cover pretty much everything across the industry.

As Donald is currently on granddaddy duties in Minnesota, his report will take a little while to write up; below is a combination of his notes and those written by Nina Head of Akademi. 

How does one get access to power players in the business? In many cases, their relationships with the artists they support seem to be not about art but friendships; how can I show that I can be just as responsible for creating [large-scale] work as men?

There are also the independent versus institutional and language barriers. We need to become more aware of what we say, how we speak versus how we present ourselves through our choice of words. But don’t self-censor; for example, eliminate ‘just’ from our vocabulary, as in ‘it’s just a little piece I’ve made’; no need for false humility… We need to stop talking ourselves down. 

Women don’t need tokenism. Are we beyond all-female choreographer marketed events yet? 

Discussion of Tamara Rojo stating it was ‘difficult’ to get female choreographers, and questioning who these choreographers were who she approached. 

Discussion about intrinsic differences between men and women and a system calibrated towards men

An audition attended by few men but many women in which the latter take fewer risks because they might more easily be rejected simply because there are more of them… 

If you’re getting public funding how can you not have better representation of equality?

Get mobilised. Discussion about Arts Council; get them to report annually about what the plan is for the future [re gender balance]

Where are men and women working? 

Funding bodies find it hard to accept works-in-progress, however for longer-term or recurring projects, funding always seeking the ‘new’ which doesn’t help establish consistency and solid working models even if the structure of the event will deliver new work (ie. platforms/festivals for presentation of new choreographic work - unlikely to be refunded regularly, needing creative applications/ twists to the event: each time, you have to do something new. You have to frame any application creatively and constantly reinvent the wheel! How can we keep going without constantly having to start from scratch?

When will the artist develop in the current climate? – the missing link! Dance agencies can struggle to develop artists beyond Resolution level; there's a large jump between small individual commissions to regular funding. 

Another problem is curators, dance hubs who can seem out of touch, with limited viewpoints. What is the responsibility of a dance programmer? Programmers have the power to change the artistic landscape and have a huge responsibility to ensure equal opportunity of access to both audience members to experience a true variety of work and to the artist. ‘Controllers’ of public access to art, responsible for building an equal society vs budget restrictions and audience no’s! Need to pass this information on to programmers without being the artist sacrificial lamb!

One person asked why the Arts Council isn't looking out for artists, however another person pointed out that it's a capacity issue [in terms of availability of officers, etc; only so many can go round…] but it’s also not a one-way system but a two-way street.

Behind every top male choreographer is an astute, Machiavellian [producer, often female?] making alliances on his behalf. There's a clear need for dance producers for women. Stop doing it all - get a producer/promoter/fundraiser etc.

Need for men to take up arms for gender equality…. Missed discussion.

Actions

  • 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?