Dance Uk Task Force and Advocasy
In the run up the 2010 general election, Dance UK embarked on a nationwide campaign to raise the profile of dance within British politics. DanceVote 2010 offered people a quick way of reaching out to their local candidates to tell them how important dance is in their constituency. Through social media DanceVote2010 took off, over 3000 emails were sent resulting in 260 candidates pledging to support dance in Parliament.
Building on that success, Dance UK has put together a Task Force to think about how we get dance on the agenda in the run up to the next General Election in 2015. Made up of dancers, communication directors for major venues, Arts Council representatives, dance teachers and choreographers (to name a few), the Advocacy Task Force is a rich mix of people from the dance industry, and the first meeting was packed with ideas and energy from those attending.
The key target for the Task Force quickly became apparent; visibility. Anyone reading this magazine knows the power dance has to transform lives, to inspire creative thinking, and improve physical and mental health. I have personal experience of people of all ages who, through dance, enjoyed increased levels of self-confidence, focus, self-discipline and well-being. In 2000 The Foundation for Community Dance identified 73,000 dance projects that engaged over 4.7 million people, and between then and 2010, those figures increased. There are many successful dance festivals across the UK that attract thousands of people each year, and on television dance is more popular than ever (the final of this years Strictly Come Dancing attracted 12 million viewers). And yet, despite the incredible impact dance is having, most MP’s are unaware of dance and its reach, its power and it’s importance in their constituencies. When discussing dance with MP’s I often have the same conversation. Many have told me how they love Strictly, and some even have a daughter (or son, although it’s not often heard) who attends dance classes. Many feel the need to precursor any comment on dance with something like ‘of course my family will testify that I am a terrible dancer myself’ (I find this odd. Before discussing say, the pharmaceutical industry, do they feel the need to clarify they still cannot be trusted to work a Bunsen Burner, no matter how hard they try?). Beyond these standard responses, most MP’s will then dutifully scramble for the policy that they think most suits the argument, and hope you’re happy with that.
And so, the Advocacy Task Force’s major concern is giving people the opportunity to introduce their local MP to the benefits of dance in all their guises. Firstly, a new DanceVote 2015 website and campaign to emulate the previous one, with targets to receive double the pledges to support dance that we secured in 2010. Secondly, to contact MP’s who pledged their support in 2010 and push them to continue speaking up for dance in Parliament. And thirdly, to continue to spread the word to the dance community that if we speak up about dance, if we can get our politicians to see it, experience it and understand all it offers, then we can make dance an important and influential part of the debate.