Dance Research Matters: Researchers change the UK funding landscape to develop cultural sector

a line of dancers on a beach

'Passage for Par' by Rosemary Lee, commissioned by CAST for Groundwork, Par Sands Beach, Cornwall 2018. Photo: © Steve Tanner

Thursday 02 February 2023

Press contact

Press Team

A campaign to highlight the importance dance research has led to the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) making £500,000 available to researchers.

Coventry University’s Centre for Dance Research (C-DaRE) was initially approached by the AHRC, a national funding body, to work with them to identify ways to develop more support and visibility for dance research.

This started the Dance Research Matters (DRM) project and campaign in 2019 and brought together dance researchers and cultural leaders from across the UK to Coventry for the Dance Research Matters Symposium in 2021. This raised awareness and enabled discussions on the future of dance research, the challenges of the sector, and inclusivity and diversity in the field.

The campaign is such an important turning point for dance research and will demonstrate how vibrant the dance community is in the UK. As the first stakeholder-led initiative by the AHRC we are excited that C-DaRE is playing a key role in gaining more focus on dance, and particularly emphasising how practice is core to so much of our research.

Professor Sarah Whatley, Director of the Centre for Dance Research, Coventry University.

The AHRC then organised an advisory group of experts from across the country, chaired by Director of C-DaRE Professor Sarah Whatley, to assess the needs of the sector. Their recommendations resulted in the AHRC creating a new £500,000 fund available to researchers to establish 5 dance research networks across the UK to explore ‘current issues, generate change and legacy for the sector’. 

This new funding aims to develop and support the growth of national dance networks to strengthen dance research and the creative industries in the UK.

The hope is that the networks will emphasise the importance of collaboration, both across the research community and with partners across the creative industries. The outcomes will likely show how dance research is impactful and is vital for our cultural health and wellbeing.

Dance research covers all aspects of dance, from its intrinsic value as an expressive art form to its ability to support research in other disciplines, and especially its contribution to health and wellbeing. It can communicate without words, and help us to express ourselves and understand our place in the world.

I am very excited by this first ever AHRC dedicated call for dance research. The outcomes of this project will be central to helping shape our strategy for supporting practice and addressing major challenges facing the sector.

Helen Weedon, Senior Investment Manager, Arts and Humanities Research Council

Click to find out more about C-DaRE, the funding call, or The Dance Research Matters website.