Sustainable careers for dance artists

The dancer’s performing life is highly focused, demanding dedicated vocational training from an early age, and it depends on time-consuming creative and physical regimes. Dance artists, in contrast with other artists, are particularly challenged when it comes to professional career development.

The dance sector still offers little choice in earning and professional development pathways to individuals who pursue a life-long career in dance.

Dance artists are extremely mobile, and sustainable careers need to include a ‘whole of life’ package that enhances wage parity, superannuation, taxation and social security reform, career development opportunities and genuine career pathways in dance. Sustained investment in programs for career development, leadership and skills sharing will ensure that the industry grows and matures to match the talent of those it attracts.

See how we are achieving this goal

Investigating injuries in Australia’s professional dancers View this project

Australia is at the forefront of dance injury epidemiology efforts; the Safe Dance Project Report on dance injury prevention and management in the Australian dance profession, known as Safe Dance®, was launched over 25 years ago. It was the first study of its kind conducted in Australia and showed an alarming prevalence of both chronic and acute injuries in Australian dancers. These findings led to a variety of recommendations and initiatives, including a recommendation to repeat the Safe Dance study regularly to evaluate the effect of these initiatives and provide further insight into dancer health and wellbeing.

National Dance Forum 2017 View this project

The 2017 National Dance Forum will bring together makers, producers and presenters to discuss and share knowledge on current digital practices and technological developments. The two-day forum will focus on strengthening the dance sector’s capacity within the digital domain. It will engage artists in developing and sharing skills in this environment.

The fourth National Dance Forum (NDF2017) will take place from 25–26 September 2017 at the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne, Victoria.

Creating Pathways National Indigenous Dance Forum View this project

Creating Pathways was a national Indigenous dance forum for mid-career dance artists held in October 2005 at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra. Participants came from all over Australia to discuss issues such as identity, training, the question of contemporary Indigenous dance, career opportunities and professional practice.

As a result of recommendations made at Creating Pathways, a new position of National Indigenous Dance Coordinator was funded by the Australia Council.

Creating Pathways was managed by Ausdance National and funded by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Board and the Dance Board of the Australia Council, and the Arts ministries of NSW, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory.

SCOPE (Securing career opportunities and professional employment for artists) View this project

Securing career opportunities and professional employment for artists (SCOPE) aim was to ensure that dance artists proactively participated in and effectively managed their own careers, education and personal development. Each of the artists worked with a professional career counsellor to develop their own career action plans. The program aimed to capture, transfer and adapt the creative capital of the individual artist to other areas of work and productivity.

2015 Commonwealth Budget decisions on the Arts View this project

The Commonwealth Budget 2015–16 announced major changes to arts funding. With funds cut from the Australia Council, the Federal Minister for Arts established the National Program for Excellence in the Arts. This led to reduced funding programs across the professional dance sector, increased uncertainty about the sustainability of artists' careers, and the potential loss of arms’ length funding and genuine peer assessment. 

We are working with our members and ArtsPeak to contribute policy direction and provide advice.

2013 National Dance Forum View this project

Exploring the unique qualities of dance as an artform and why we choose it as our mode of expression, communication or storytelling, this forum embraced views from multiple perspectives: maker, dancer, educator, audience member and the broader community, while focusing on a central question, 'Why dance?'

2011 National Dance Forum View this project

Some of Australia’s most exciting dancers, choreographers, curators, critics and collaborators met to discuss and reflect on the state of dance practice in Australia now, and to chart a course for the future.

Supporting the Live Performance Training Package View this project

After nation-wide research, Innovation and Business Skills Australia concluded that 'there is strong industry and community demand for national qualifications to help lift standards across the profession and set clear national benchmarks which promote consistency while maintaining flexibility'.

Dance Plan 2012 View this project

Identifies four ambitions for 2012, with a list of achievable objectives. These ambitions reflect the diversity and dynamism of dance in our communities. They require our energy and attention to ensure that dance, as an artform and an enjoyable form of recreation for all, remains at the heart of Australian life.