What is happening with ProDance?

Hello ProDancers,

I can hear you all screaming: what has happened to ProDance!?!?! We’re sorry that being really busy has meant that we have not quite managed to keep you in the loop, and that’s why we’re now doing an update galore to make sure you know what’s going on with your favourite artist led project in the region.

Since December, we’ve been working long and hard to create a G4A that will hopefully (fingers crossed!) provide us with funding to cover the running of our regular ProDance programme for another 18 months, starting early September 2017. Because the bid is much bigger than anything we have ever applied for previously, several challenges has risen in the process of writing it that we originally weren’t aware of, meaning it has taken us longer than expected to get it in. We will submit it within the next few weeks but because the bid is for over 15K we will have to wait 12 weeks to find out whether we have been successful or not. As soon as we hear, we will of course let you know.

The question many will be asking is understandably: what is happening with ProDanceLeeds in the meantime? Will there be more classes? The answer is unfortunately no, and we want to explain to you in a little bit more detail why that is.

Between January and March, we were kindly supported by  Northern Ballet, Northern School of Contemporary Dance, Phoenix Dance Theatre, RJC Dance and Yorkshire Dance to run classes on a scaled down programme. We were hoping to submit an application by the end of January, which would mean that if we were successful, we could start the classes early May. The support that these organisations generously offered was a swift response to us asking them to support us in a set interim period, so that ProDance wouldn’t have to stagnate. This was from the very beginning an agreement to help us out for a set period of time and to ‘take us in from the cold’ while we were securing a future for the programme. We are extremely grateful for that support, and for the speed with which they all sprung to action.

There are several reasons to why the bid didn’t go in at the end of January, as we originally hoped. In October, we still thought that ProDance would be covered by Yorkshire Dance’s NPO. We had set a plan in motion for this, to get the GFA in in December and lined up a busy autumn and Spring for our sister company Gracefool Collective. When the NPO plan fell through, we had to rethink our whole strategic plan of where ProDance was going. The G4A we had planned to cover the interim period until the NPO funding was gonna kick in was now obsolete and we had to come up with a completely new project. As you may know, you can’t apply for funding to run a project you have already run once, so we had to think very strategically about how we could keep what’s so great about ProDance, whilst developing the programme to do something new. That has taken time, and as we are asking for such a big pot of money this time we felt it imperative that the application was given the time it needed to be properly constructed, planned and written.

Unknowing that we would have to write a £98,000 bid, we’d planned for Spring in Gracefool land:

  • Touring to six venues with Red Ladder Theatre Company

  • Working on the endless administration of said tour

  • Starting an R&D for a new piece of work with four week long residencies across the country

  • Rehearsing & performing the new work as part of Reveal Festival

  • Researching and meeting with rural touring schemes and programmers across the country

  • Planning two major projects (that we will announce in the coming few months!)

  • And of course, evaluating the previous ProDance project and writing that all important report for ACE.

And this doesn’t include all the day to day admin of the company: liaising with people, social media, writing newsletters, organising outreach, delivering outreach, writing applications, researching new opportunities, meeting with industry people, going to networking events, having bi-weekly meetings, maintaining the website, keeping track of cash flow and receipts ETC...

It also doesn’t include all the work we do as freelancing individuals to make ends meet and pay our bills.

You get the picture.

And I am sure that many of you can relate to this.

When Gracefool gets very busy, it would be great to be able to outsource some of the ProDance work to ensure both projects keep running smoothly. Unfortunately, there is very little money in running PDL, and although we keep working for free because this is our baby and a project we believe in, we don’t particularly like asking anyone else to work for us for free.

We are so excited about the work we are doing with Gracefool and ProDanceLeeds, and there is four of us in the company to share the load, but there is a limit to what we can do and we are having to be honest with ourselves about the limit of our capacity. We are a very positive bunch which is great at most times, but sometimes it means we are overly optimistic about how much we can achieve in a set amount of time.

We all had a very busy 2016 and the warning bells for burning out have been chiming pretty loudly for a while now. So we took a conscious decision of trying not to burn out i.e. actually trying to give ourselves weekends and evenings off. Being able to maintain relationships with friends and family. Talking about something else other than work on our lunch break. We are doing this because we want to be able to stay in this industry for a long time, without having a collective breakdown too early. And so the application has taken several months longer to complete than we thought it would.

We hope that you are as excited as we are that we will finally be submitting it (very soon!) and that you keep all fingers and toes crossed for it to be successful. And that when classes do start again, you’ll be banging on the door to come in to class and support the continuation of a flourishing freelance, professional, dance community. We are really grateful for your support and patience in the meantime - ProDanceLeeds wouldn’t exist without you guys!

Kate, Rebecca, Rachel and Sofia