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A room of people of sitting at tables talking.

Freelance Dance Artists and Representation


British Academy through the Innovation Fellowships Scheme 2021-22 (Route A: Researcher-led), grant IF\220053

Total value of project


Value to Coventry University


Project Team

Karen Wood 


One Dance UK

Duration of Project

31/03/2022- 30/03/2023

Project Overview

This project will bring together freelance dance artists, representative agencies, policy makers, organisations and academics with a view to inform and influence public opinion, policy and practice. We will explore the working practice of freelance dance artists, how they are represented to policy makers and how they participate in policy making and decisions.
Covid-19 has highlighted the fragility of the economic model that supports the freelancers and how they have been overlooked for support from government in their financial offers to the cultural sector. This situation has galvanised collective actions and groups to form (e.g. Freelancers Make Theatre Work, Scene/ Change) and a call to action from organisations and the government to better support freelance workers. We will explore the precarity and collective action of this group with a view to contribute to theory as well as apply practical recommendations for the freelance community.

Project Objectives

Knowledge Exchange Objectives are to:

• collect information on working practices from freelance dance artists and stakeholders via online questionnaire pre-workshop. Expose the variety of skills and range of policies with which artists engage. Present the profile of freelance dance artists to policy makers to raise awareness.
• define barriers to engaging in policy formation.
• develop a structure to support freelance dance artists’ representation nationally.
• bring together policymakers with freelance dance artists, advocacy groups and arts organisations for mutual exchange, connection and discussion to begin to inform and influence policy.

Impact Statement

This research is multidisciplinary as it combines dance studies, cultural policy, arts management and creative industries. It involves taking considerations of artistic practice and the needs of the artist (dance studies) and looking at the societal, political and cultural infrastructures (arts management, cultural policy) that support the artist. By bringing these disciplines together, we will cultivate deep discussions involving key stakeholders into the future of dance practice (dance studies and creative industries) and create research that nurtures collective action, equitable infrastructure and sustainable practices. Each discipline will make new contributions and insights to their own and other disciplines.


  • A peer-reviewed journal article that will be submitted to a cultural industries journal (e.g. Journal for Cultural Research or Dance Research) and will detail the research process and the findings.
  • A conference paper at a Cultural and Creative Industries Conference and/or a Dance Research conference. This could also be delivered at OneDanceUK’s conference if this happens next year and delivered at the project Symposium.
  • a report of findings and recommendations, co-produced between Wood and ODU and with dance artists and organisations, providing evidence and information for ODU to use in their APPG parliamentary role and inform local government and policy makers. This will be delivered to the APPG when the field visit takes place;
  • a network of organisations, artists, academics, policy makers and other interested parties focused on representation of dance artists. This will be kept as a database complying with GDPR, at Coventry University;
  • a policy discussion paper for policymakers to use and submitted to the Policy Evidence Centre. This will also be circulated to the APPG.
  • An article in OneDanceUK’s bi-annual industry magazine.
  • A blog will be produced from the Knowledge Café to share the activity
  • We will have project-specific social media presence on Twitter and Instagram.
  • A one-day Symposium, including expert panel and speakers, held at DanceHub Birmingham to disseminate findings to key stakeholders.
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University of the year shortlisted
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