Review by Prudence Skene, who is Chairman of the Rambert Dance Company and was a member of the Arts Council of England from 1992-2000.
(Arts Council of England 2001, ISBN 0-7287-0816-7, £7 [£9.84 inc p&p*])
Drama had its Boyden report, a massive consultation exercise that resulted in a welcome overall grant of £25m to that art form. This publication appears to be an equivalent cry for support from the Arts Council of England?s Dance Department, again written by an outside consultant, but this time packaged as an ACE publication with a selling price of £7.
Jeanette Siddall argues for a stronger public dialogue about the importance of dance in our society and this publication certainly provides the necessary facts and figures for a continuing debate. It also cleverly contrasts the paradox of the waves of success (the immense growth in dance activity) with the undercurrents of the problems that have beset the dance world for so long: dependence on public subsidy, costs of production, low salaries and status. But I am concerned that elsewhere it reads too much like an ACE policy paper: there is a lot of jargon along the lines of ?capacity building? and ?future proofing? that turn off the ordinary reader, and its conclusions regarding the need for future investment are centred on the public purse in spite of references earlier in the document for more commercial awareness. Dance needs all the help it can get but it would have been good to have given its positioning the kind of free circulation that its sister art form enjoyed so liberally.