In responding to our suggestion of a campaign to support the smaller key dance organisations, Ruth Osborne, artistic director of QL2 Dance, came in to discuss some of the issues youth dance companies are experiencing.
While companies such as QL2 Dance work with young people to develop technical and creative skills, choreographic intelligence and opportunities for mentoring and professional development, the companies themselves do not fit traditional funding guidelines. Developing these qualities in young pre-professional dancers provides important infrastructure for emerging artists, but, as Ruth points out, the companies are not 'producers' in the traditional sense, and their work doesn't tour.
There was enormous interest in this Australian model of support for young artists when we attended the Council for Dance Education and Training and Youth Dance England conferences in London last year—such support was identified as a major gap in emerging artists' infrastructure in the UK, so it's interesting to see how under-valued it is here.
These issues have been included in many forums at Australian Youth Dance Festivals in the past, and no doubt will be again at the 2012 AYDF.
We would welcome your comments about whether youth dance should be recognised through different funding structures.