Show Me The Money

Every so often Arts Council England (ACE) releases a document that tells you exactly what you want and need to know without any of the usual spin we have all become accustomed to from our bureaucratic organisations. One such document is the “Spending Plan for Regularly Funded Organisations” which will tell you exactly what it says on the front cover. Weighing in at some 276 pages probably puts a lot of people off reading it (and who could blame you) so Article19 has decided to wade through this epic tome and pull out the interesting bits just for you.

The spending plan details what regularly funded organisations will receive over the next 3 years, covering 2003 to 2006. Regularly funded organisations cover anything from National Dance Agencies to small dance companies and all the administrative groups that fall into the gaps in-between. The information is important because it allows you to see the trends in funding provision from England ‘s major funding provider for the arts and may help you figure out national trends. You can see who is getting more, who is getting less and more importantly who is getting what!

First up lets take a look at National Dance Agencies (NDA ‘s). NDA ‘s provide support services to professional dance companies, dancers and community dance groups in their particular area of the country. The figures do not show funding received from other sources.

AGENCY 2003/2004 2004/2005 2005/2006 +/-
The Place 1,318,589 1,481,239 1,723,889 +30%
DanceEast 267,237 299,996 380,496 +42%
DanceCity 266,377 322,777 346,377 +30%
DanceXchange 209,444 259,444 285,930 +36%
Dance 4 182,205 220,000 267,405 +46%
Swindon Dance 199,000 250,000 265,000 +33%
Yorkshire Dance 156,500 170,000 180,000 +15%
Dance Southwest 129,000 132,225 158,670 +23%
Dance Northwest 111,352 114,136 116,192 +5%

[all figures are in GBP]

On the whole it looks like the NDA ‘s are getting a nice bump in their funding except for poor old Dance Northwest who not only have to put up with being the least well funded NDA but they only get a miserly 5% increase over the next 3 years. The obvious funding leader here is The Place. The NDA for London will receive almost as much as all the other NDA ‘s combined by 2006. Under the blanket cover of The Contemporary Dance Trust it’s probably obvious to most UK based dancers why there would be such a big difference in their funding compared to all the other NDA ‘s.

The Place covers all of the dancers and dance activity in London; well a lot of it in any case, The Place Theatre and the funding also includes money to support Richard Alston Dance Company.

We would argue though that if all of the other NDA ‘s received comparable funding to the London NDA then just what could they achieve in their respective areas? This funding policy is a self-fulfilling prophecy, that’s where all the money is so that’s where all the activity is. After all if there are 7 million people in London then there are 53 million who live elsewhere and the figures don ‘t really add up.

It is also interesting to note that DanceCity receives a similar funding increase to the other NDA ‘s. This is strange considering that by the end of this 3-year cycle they will be operating a new building that will cost significantly more to run than their existing facility. Figures were not available online for their funding from ACE North East.

Dance Companies.

The list given below does not include the numerous, small-scale dance agencies dotted across the country and other dance organisations that provide audience development or support services. If there are any dance companies missing from this list then let us know.

COMPANY 2003/2004 2004/2005 2005/2006 +/-
Royal Opera House 21,748,450 23,110,841 24,866,154 +14%
BRB 6,326,312 6,515,312 6,707,812 +6%
ENB 5,325,338 5,482,838 5,644,838 +6%
NBT 1,765,800 1,885,235 2,133,245 +21%
Rambert 1,656,568 1,706,568 1,806,568 +9%
Adzido 1,011,155 1,011,155 1,011,155
Siobhan Davies 370,542 413,542 433,468 +17%
Phoenix 390,000 410,000 420,300 +8%
DV8 308,880 318,880 368,880 +19%
Shobana Jeyasingh 289,476 300,000 320,000 +11%
C&F 273,331 286,331 318,331 +16%
Random Dance Co. 184,149 264,149 314,149 +70%
Candoco 207,545 267,545 287,545 +38%
Union Dance 204,811 229,543 255,065 +22%
Richocet 164,800 187,800 197,800 +20%
RJC 110,000 112,700 115,500 +5%
MotionHouse 61,637 180,000 184,500 +199%
Badejo Arts 180,165 180,165 180,165
Akram Khan 180,000
Blue Eyed Soul 40,431 71,442 73,228 +81.1%
Attik Dance 50,000 52,500 55,125 +10%
Chitraleka Dance Co. 31,035 51,810 53,105 +71%
Tees Dance In. 15,000 50,000 50,000 +233%
BalletLorent 10,000 40,000 41,000 +310%
Vincent Dance Th. 25,000 28,000 31,000 +24%
Sankapalm 20,000 21,000 25,000 +25%
Jasmin Vardimon 10,000 15,000
Anjali Dance Co. 10,000 10,250 10,506 +5%

[BRB – Birmingham Royal Ballet, ENB – English National Ballet, NBT – Northern Ballet Theatre, C&F Cholmondley and Featherstonhaughs]

Topping the tree is of course the glitter covered fairy of the British performing arts scene; The Royal Opera House. Figures used to be available for the Royal Ballet separately from the main Opera House activity but that is no longer the case. Last time we looked, which was a few years ago, they received in the region of £11m – £12m annually, although this figure is almost certainly higher now.

Overall the figures show an across the board increase in funds for regularly funded companies. This is to be expected since ACE received a boost to its overall levels of funding from the Department of Culture Media and Sport. If there were no increases showing then a lot of people would be asking where the money was going.

BalletLorent tops the charts for the biggest single increase with a whopping 310% rise, although that still only makes the total amount £41,000 by 2006. Akram Khan is probably looking forward to 2005/2006 when from nowhere his regular funding status will be richer to the tune of £180,000. Classical dance companies such as English National Ballet still top the charts with over £20m of the total dance budget going to the big four tutu twirling companies. Although their percentage increase is not as high as many of the contemporary companies listed a small percentage increase in a budget of millions adds up to an awful lot.

All funding increases are, at present rates, higher than the existing rate of inflation.

Also worth noting is the lack of innovation in the top tiers of funding even for the contemporary companies listed. Siobhan Davies, DV8, Phoenix, Random, etc have all been around for a very long time now and there is very little in the way of new ideas coming from any of them. The last shows we attended for all of these companies saw them playing to their strengths or playing it very very safe depending on your point of view. It is probably understandable since they want to keep their hard won audiences but those audiences are still comparatively small when compared to other forms of entertainment.

All of the companies listed above have extensive education and outreach programmes as part of their main activity. There are no companies in the UK producing artistic work for the sake of producing artistic work.

The percentage markers would seem to suggest that things are looking good for dance as a whole but funding trends have not changed one bit over the last ten years. The balance of power is still in the hands of the big ballet companies and in the contemporary world we still have the same old faces receiving the larger sums to develop their work. We have yet to see a contemporary dance company break the £1m mark (for the record we don ‘t consider Rambert to be a contemporary company, others may disagree).

London still dominates the list with most companies based in the nations capital. There are no major new dance companies based inside London or anywhere else for that matter. Although there is a lot to be said for the established companies continuing to make work and develop their audiences, just how does the new blood break through into the big time and start to get some serious support? To date Akram Khan is the only new face to appear on the list with anything like a significant level of funding but this does not start on a regular basis until 2005. Funding is reviewed every three years so don ‘t expect any new names to appear before 2007 at the very soonest.

Full details of the 3 year spending plans are available in a Word document on the Arts Council website if you follow the link below.