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UK dance graduates and preparation for freelance working: the contribution of artist-led collectives and dance agencies to the dance ecology
Theatre, Dance and Performance Training  (IF),  Pub Date : 2021-07-22, DOI: 10.1080/19443927.2021.1934530
Karen Wood

Over the last decade, there has been an emergence of artist-led networks and collectives that reveals the importance of solidarity, activism and belonging. In today’s contemporary society, the term ‘network’ denotes the building of a local community (which could be physical or online). This article will explore some of these networks and collectives and their function for the communities they serve. In addition, it will question what the rise in artist-led networks/collectives reveals about the current economic and artistic position of dance in the UK, focusing in particular on the path new and emerging dance artists take after leaving any kind of formal training and entering the realms of freelance, versatile and fragmented ways of working. What are the options available to this group – commonly referred to as ‘emerging artists’ – and what are their expectations of further training, maintaining their practice and finding their position in an unstable environment? What do artist-led networks/collectives offer to the emerging artist? What can training institutions offer their graduates to prepare them for this way of working? These are some of the questions that drove the research for this paper. I ground this research in my part-time role as Associate Director of an artist-led collective, Birmingham Dance Network, and map other networks and collectives that have arisen over the last decade. With a specific interest in the opportunities available for young graduates, I will explore artist development programmes and mentoring schemes as offers for training and career progression.