BDAH Meeting #6 Summary

The last BDAH meeting was held on Wednesday the 16th of May 2012 at the Ausdance QLD Belltower Studio.

The following is a summary of what was discussed at the meeting …

Introduction to the meeting – Liz Vilmanis, co-founder of BDAH: the reason for this meeting is to address the upcoming forums that Arts Queensland are planning to hold, we are hoping to generate discussion and try to address, or identify, some areas that the independent dance industry needs to present at these forums. Ausdance QLD is working with Arts Queensland to organize these forums.

Update from Ann Mclean, Director of Ausdance QLD:

Ann Mclean had been in touch with Jan Irvine about the planning process of the forums. Arts Queensland is waiting for administrative approval for some funds to channel through to Ausdance to employ someone to take on the work of organizing these forums for Ausdance Qld, this process will be happening in June. The forums will be open for dance related persons to attend, however Ausdance Qld would be happy to hear any thoughts prior to these forums.

Arts Queensland is interested in putting together an in depth study through the entire state, to find out the current trends in the sector at the moment, taking a fresh look at all the venues, and producers that are currently working and the new work that’s being made. They want to know how artists look at producing, marketing, making work, how they approach venues, and where they feel their own gaps and resources are. The idea is to pull together a plan where everyone is consulted, that we agree on, and that can work. There is a plan to ensure that there are three key foci. Arts Queensland wants to ensure, if artists are on the right track, that they are supported by a variety of avenues rather than having to go to one place for one thing, so that there is collaboration.

Choreographic Play Sessions:

A big thank you to Shaaron Boughen who kindly attended the meeting and generously shared her experiences of her involvement with the Cherry Herring.

In short summary, Cherry Herring:

  • Ran for 3-4 years, last show was in 1997
  • Was set up by artists because there was a need for affordable and regular space for networking sharing and choreographing.
  • Was set up by a group of professionally engaged artists who wanted to make work and where they could give critical feed back in a supported environment.
  • Originally consisted of about 8-9 artists who shared the rent on rented a space above a Renault Car Specialist, off Julieanne Hensen who lived in the space.
  • Ran as a collective where the artists made and performed work. They specifically ran it without Arts Queensland or Australia Council for the Arts coming, and without reviewers. However, there was a point where they attracted the attention of Arts Queensland and were encouraged to apply for funding but they were unsuccessful.
  • Recouped costs on rent by sub-renting out the space during the day at a very cheap cost as a studio space.
  • Evolved over the 4 years, due to changes in artists and commitments.
  • At one point built up to almost 15 artists renting the space, which became almost unworkable in terms of differing needs, keeping tabs on what everyone was doing, and the responsibilities like locking up, handing over the keys, sorting rent payments.
  • Received a community service grant to invest in floor and lights.
  • Gained interest even from Arts Queensland and towards the end of Cherry Herring the Powerhouse was then known as a venue, it was up and running and supportive too.
  • Had space which was flexible in terms of how to present your works.
  • Found that curating shows was hard because you had to put more work into finding out who wanted to present work and who didn’t and there was a fear of people’s noses getting put out of joint if they were forgotten about.
  • Found that graduating students wanted to become more involved and there became quite a learning divide between the more established artists and younger artists.
  • Eventually they lost the space due to redevelopment and the Cherry Herring folded due to loss of energy to continue and original artists needing to pursue their careers in new directions.
  • Had new “splinter shoots” that came out of the Collective like the “Angry Mime”. And a number of artists received grants off the back of the Cherry Herring to pursue other projects.

From Shaaron’s sharing it was recognized that such a process has a cycle of succession. It was noted that funding models even today haven’t shifted enough to support independent work individually. Choreographic sharings have proven to be an affordable way of test driving/experimenting with new work.

Another choreographic sharing platform mentioned in the meeting included the Crab Room (Clare Dyson, Rachael Jennings, Brian Lucas and Avril Huddy)

Please have a look at the articles below for more information …

Dance space discussion:

  • What do artists want studio space for, how do they want it to be run, who should be able to use, what terms of use are there?
  • Idea of building a “Grand Plan” model was raised to present to Arts Queensland or other organizations that want to support independent dance space. The ‘Grand Plan’ could be useful for a number of reasons:
  1. Keeping the space used for the right reasons (not for commercial use)
  2. So that the job of administration can easily be passed on
  3. So organizations can see that the collective group is organized and professional
  4. So if space is forced to move to another location, the model can be easily transferred and maintained.

Other options…

  • Dark Spaces Project:
  1. Ausdance Qld is compiling a calendar of available spaces, that are run by other organizations/Arts Centers. They hope opportunities can be sourced from these venues to provide access for artists for their projects/workshops. It would work similar to the Belltower calendar (see Ausdance QLD website); you would require your own insurance, and Ausdance would subsidise the hire cost.
  2. Ausdance would like to discuss/gain consultation from artist on how best to model the Dark Spaces Project.

Other points noted by Ausdance QLD –

  • Statistics of hire of the Belltower suggests that most artists tend to rehearse in the evenings.
  • Ausdance QLD is currently in discussions with the Judith Wright Centre to subsidise the Theatre Rehearsal Room for independents.

Points raised in open discussion:

  • There is an emphasis on taking work beyond Queensland, but the question was how do you sell work and get the financial support to tour beyond Queensland?
  • Could there be funding models for touring?
  1. It’s difficult to line up a number of venues to take a show beyond one or two venues. How does one go about giving the work a longer life?
  2. Where/How do you find independent Producers to take the load off of creators? Not for project to project, but for a sustained time period.
  3. Understanding how producers come together with artists, for example, in the music industry, producers find the musician, create a relationship. Are there enough independent dance producers out there?
  • MAPS for Artists – how do you access MAPS?
  • It was recognized that some Independents don’t have works that need producing yet, but could benefit from building skills to prepare. What are the skills that are necessary??
  • Where are the Peer networks for overseas touring?

Final note:

Zaimon and Liz raised that they feel they need to take a back step from running BDAH meetings, they’re concerned about monopolizing forums/events to cater towards their our own needs. They acknowledge that BDAH meetings should be able to be facilitated by any BDAH member on issues relevant to members. They also mentioned that they are very willing to volunteer their help in assisting others to initiate meetings if they want it.