BDAH Meeting #8

Minutes from the BDAH Meeting on Saturday 9 November, 2013

This meeting was called by Tiina Alinen and was held at 9am-11am in the ACPA Board Room (many thanks to ACPA for their support).

Attendance – Lizzie Vilmanis, Zaimon Vilmanis, Marcus Hughes, Adam Tucker, Erica Rose Jeffrey (chaired meeting), Nerida Matthaei, Liesel Zink, Peter Cook, Elise May, Anja Ali-Haapala (recorded minutes)

 The purpose of this meeting was to identify common values, discuss the Bell Tower (space and programs), and start discussing a long-term vision for the Brisbane independent dance sector. 


What was a time you felt empowered/supported in the independent dance community in the last year?

  • When a mind shift/change in approach was supported through opportunities to explore this.
  • When a situation made it easy to make work by providing resources and support (e.g. Fresh Ground, Kick Start Next Wave).
  • Being able to empower other people was empowering.
  • Being able to have own voice.

What is important to you in the independent dance community?

  • Role of artists being validated beyond audience numbers. Focus on the quality of work rather than bums on seats.
  • Engagement (deliberately vague about whether that’s audience or artist engagement).
  • Visibility on local, state and national levels within and outside of the dance community.
  • Artists finding where they sit within local, state and national contexts (developing networks).
  • Community building among the independents. Everyone sharing and working towards something together.
  • Building resilience in a tough environment for the arts.
  • Recognising diversity in the sector.
  • Willingness to work, see work, and be open to conversation.


  • Independent scene when Bell Tower started – There were spaces that had come before such as: Red Comb (?), CRAB Room, Cherry Herring. Artists around at the time include: the beginning of Polytoxic, Lisa O’Neill, Brides of Frank. An audit of the independent scene when Marcus started at Ausdance revealed that there was a need for access to space and resources, and that the sector needed somewhere for people to work and connect with each other. It took 1.5 years to get the support from funding bodies to get a space.
  • Choosing a space for the Bell Tower Space – Ausdance, at the time, was across the road from the Judy with no appropriate spaces for a dance space. It moved to the Judy because it had two possible spaces: the first did not have a great floor and the second is the existing location of the Bell Tower space. Ausdance was aware that it wasn’t an ideal space, but it was the best option at the time. Moving into the Judy provided an opportunity to building a relationship there. The Bell Tower Space was cheap which addressed issues about space availability.
  • Why did the Bell Tower Programs stop? Marcus left Ausdance before the Bell Tower Program stopped. May have been confusion about the Bell Tower Space and the programs that developed out of there. Ausdance board are better informed on this.
  • Funding – The Bell Tower Program was funded by local, state and national government. Each aspect of the Bell Tower Program was funded by different grants – Ausdance would match various grants to each aspect of the Bell Tower program. The program relied on Ausdance’s funding to enable the administrative side and therefore the Bell Tower became a core element of Ausdance’s work.
  • Administration – There was a LOT of administration (at least one person full time). Ausdance staff believed in what they were doing for the sector and therefore could justify the time spent on Bell Tower. The Bell Tower Program provided leverage/credibility for the artists that would go for grants from organisations such as Arts Queensland. Collecting data on the Bell Tower Programs was vital in supporting the argument for it.



  • There is the need for a strong base with flexibility to add funding for different add-ons, i.e. adaptability. This is always going to be the case.
  • Ausdance is a consistent organisation.
  • Bell Tower Space is still available and cheap.
  • There is a difference between a “space” and a “home”. The “home” discussion also happened 10 years ago.


  • Different government.
  • Fresh Ground now exists – providing free space.
  • EDC will consider providing in-kind support over quiet periods such as Christmas.
  • BDAH exists now.
  • The impetus to make change is coming from the community rather than an organisation.

Can the community make it happen, rather than relying on an organisation?

  • Need to be strategic about what we’re doing/asking for.
  • Bell Tower was an ongoing debate with Arts Queensland.
  • What can the community do internally, what resources do we have between us?

What’s the issue? What problem are we trying to solve?

  • We’re not hearing all voices of the community – community-building needed.
  • Need for clear pathways for progression of work.


  • Put some key questions out to the community so that we can understand the broader picture.
  • Take that information into a strategic planning phase.
  • Start taking action.