The service organization Dance/NYC has released its latest research report, Defining “Small-Budget” Dance Makers in a Changing Dance Ecology. The quantitative and qualitative analysis, including recommendations that are useful and applicable to other businesses, was prepared in collaboration with Carrie Blake and Nelie Jacques from Webb Mgmt.
With leadership support from the New York Community Trust, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the study aims to further understand the unique characteristics, inner-workings and needs of “small-budget” dance, already known to be more diverse, resourceful and nimble than the metropolitan New York City area dance field as a whole. The findings are multi-dimensional, deeply influenced by the pervasive impacts of racism and inequality and the profound impacts of the pandemic. The report calls for collective action to move this segment of the field from a place of surviving to a place of thriving.
Dance/NYC’s approach throughout this study, its recommendations, and the actions it hopes will follow, responds to the urgency of the current moment and is anchored on Dance/NYC’s values of justice, equity, and inclusion, as a service organization and collective of dance workers. The new study is grounded in the voices of dance-making organizations and or/groups with budgets between $25,000 and $1 million.
Dance/NYC recognizes the vast breadth of this budget range and the report therefore seeks to understand the uniquenesses and disparities among the various subsets of this segment. Information was collected through a field-wide survey; conversations between participants and audiences during Dance/NYC’s Defining “Small-Budget” Dance Makers in a Changing Dance Ecology Conference; the convening of a project cohort who provided feedback on issues identified through preliminary research and analysis; and a volume of commissioned essays by “small-budget” dance makers, cultural workers, advocates and researchers who offered reflections and recommendations based on the research findings.
The findings suggest a variety of key opportunities for the dance community; call for investing in “small-budget” dance makers, audiences, and cultural workers; and demand expressly the need for the dance field to shift its position from a focus on building institutions to a focus on the experiences of individuals within the sector.
Most notably, data findings show that the majority of “small-budget” dance organizations, groups and projects operate on the lower end of the $25K to $1M budget range studied, with 78% with a budget range between $25K and $250K. Further, the majority of “small-budget” artistic leads (55%) do not earn a regular salary from their work in dance and just 21% have a full-time job in dance. For artistic leads, full-time employment often involves a varied combination of artistic and administrative roles and responsibilities. Highlights from the research report can be found by visiting Dance.NYC/SBDMdata2020.
The research report offers recommendations paired with specific action items various groups can take – dance makers and companies, public agencies and institutional funders, and the service sector in order to advance “small-budget” dance:
- Value “Small-budget” Dance Workers As Dignified Laborers
- Create Infrastructure that Induces Long-term Sustainability and Equity for “Small-Budget” Dance
- Coordinate Resources for “Small-Budget” Dance Makers
Visit Dance.NYC for the full report at Dance.NYC/SBDMdata2020.
Prepared by: Carrie Blake and Nelie Jacques, Webb Mgmt and in collaboration with Dance/NYC.