Léim Live

Sheila Creevey: Module B Exploring Artist Development

Author: Sheila Creevey

Central to the role of a European dance house is the support and development of artists and new work. My first placement for Module B of Léim was with my partner organisation Dance Ireland, and this was an opportunity for me to explore in more detail the services and supports offered to artists, as well as experiencing the inner workings of organisation.

In advance of my placement, I discussed my interests and expectations with Paul Johnson, CEO of Dance Ireland, in order to identify the best way for them to support my learning needs. I had a particular interest in the Associate Artist programme offered by Dance Ireland, and working around their programme we agreed that I would split my placement – one week in February (to coincide with the selection process of the 2014 / 2015 Associate Artist) and one week in May.

I undertook the first stage of my placement from 10 to 14 February, 2014. During my time at Dance Ireland, I met with staff members, learned more about their roles and responsibilities, and was included in meetings and programming decisions. I was introduced to the resident artists, and those that have participated in the Associate Artist programme, past and present. I saw this placement as an opportunity to build on my current research on Dance Leadership and Entrepreneurship, and so seized the chance to interview artists and document the programme more formally. Everyone was very generous with their time and information.

I gained many new insights to how Dance Ireland functions, and the multiple roles that the organisation assumes. They are not only a body that represents the dance community, but a resource organisation, and a venue – as are many European dance houses. What has interested me is the dynamics of the relationship of a representative organisation, and those they represent. How the Director and Executive negotiate and respond to the needs and perceptions of the community; and how they build a programme that appropriately reflects the continuously shifting arts environment.

This was a valuable experience for me, that has allowed me to immerse myself in a community that, as a regionally based artist, I can sometimes feel isolated from. It has given me space to consider my own needs and desires as a dance activist, to build my network, and ponder my next steps. I look forward to the second stage of my placement in Dublin, in May. But next up will be Umeå, Sweden, and the Aerowaves Spring Forward festival 2014, where I will be mentored by Roberto Casarotto (CSC / Bassano del Grappa), and hopefully extend even further my international knowledge and networks.

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