In the latest update from the DCMS Jerwood Creative Bursaries Scheme, Anna Bergström gets a taste of what her fellow graduates have experienced at a special event at the Manchester International Festival.
I am one of the 30 recipients of a DCMS Jerwood Creative Bursary and also one of the newest. I started my role with Candoco Dance Company as a Development and Communications coordinator only a few weeks ago, but I’m already enjoying it very much. I work with marketing and audience development, and my role bridges the Marketing and Touring Department and the Learning and Development Department.
Candoco, if you haven’t heard of it, is a contemporary dance company formed of disabled and non-disabled dancers working with an inclusive approach. It was formed in 1991 by Celeste Dandeker and Adam Benjamin and since then the company has grown into a mid-scale company that creates and tours national and international productions, created by world class choreographers. The Learning and Development projects and activities are also playing a big part in their work and they aim to: “provide access to the highest quality of work for people participating in dance for pure enjoyment, or as part of a developing career”.
They’re now working on joining their performance work with their learning and development work to gain a more coherent whole and further a continued development of inclusive dance, aiming to develop a platform of high quality training for disabled performers.
Manchester International Festival
Only a few days after starting my job, I went to a DCMS Jerwood Creative Bursaries Event at Manchester International Festival (MIF), as DCMS and the Jerwood Foundation host my internship here at Candoco. After a 24-hour full-on schedule with networking, dialoguing, seminars, performances and exhibitions, I came back to London fully inspired by the impressions and support I’d received.
Meeting the other recipients of the scheme was valuable as some of the others had already done their internship, some had just started and others were halfway through, and we therefore had many things to share in terms of experience and advice. To give us further support, Jerwood had also invited speakers from the arts sector to come and talk to us about their experiences and answer possible questions. These included Simon Mellor (General Director of Manchester International Festival), Baba Israel (Artistic Director and Chief Executive Officer at Contact Theatre), Andrew Nairne (Executive Director of Arts Council England), Rachel Clare (Artistic Director at Crying out Loud) and Gwen Van Spijk (Executive Director of Lone Twin).
Andrew Nairne spoke to us about the decisions we take in life in terms of what we do; to envisage what you want to achieve, look for what “extraordinary” means to us, and care about the public. Christine Gettins, Senior Producer of MIF, spoke about taking risks and to be passionate enough to do so. She said we are asking ourselves ambiguous questions about why one as an audience member buys into what we see. Jennifer Cleary, Head of Creative Learning at MIF, explained the risk they take as an organiser of a festival in Manchester by taking in big international performances such as The life and death of Marina Abramovic, by Marina Abramovic and Robert Wilson. She said the performance involves big international collaborations, which in itself is a big investment, and having the bravery to take it to Manchester requires some guts, as it is a quite extravagant performance that might appear slightly unconventional to the mainstream public. However, taking that risk also brings development to the art sector by broadening what is presented and making it accessible to a wider range of audience – something that struck a chord with me, as making art accessible to all is something I value.
I also got to see some of the amazing work being presented at Manchester International Festival, which fed into our discussions and helped put things into perspective. Life and death of Marina Abramovic was probably my favourite as it brought her work into a whole other level by putting it on a proscenium stage, almost like a spectacle, but still having that strong sense of being human and containing lots of references to her previous work. The interactive exhibition Music Boxes was another really enjoyable experience and totally immersed all the senses. A group of artists had created interactive experiences for children inside containers, making every container its own little world.
The event gave me lots of support to start out in my new role and left me bursting with inspiration!
Images courtesy Candoco. Top image from Imperfect storm, created by Wendy Houston for the company for Renditions in the 2010/11 season. Bottom image from Turning 20, an anniversary programme that will premiere on 14 of September at The Lowry, Salford, and premiere in London at The Southbank Centre on 14 October.