Refocussing and re-energising in the new normal

I am wondering what words of relevance, if any, I can add to the overcrowded digital channels of coronavirus comment, advice, jokes, and sharing of personal and national tragedy? Is there anything useful I can say amongst the news of Dance North cancellations and postponements?  

This last couple of weeks my mind has been busy, yet I’ve felt less than productive.  True, I was revved up ready to hit Uist and Isle of Eigg last week with the Extremely Pedestrian Chorales dancers on tour, instead the last eight dates of the tour have been postponed and we’re all looking at ways to maintain a dance and movement practice in our homes – Brighton, Lewes, Edinburgh and Findhorn.

My unexpected time has filled with conversations about home working, staff needs, refocussing priorities, how to pay and support the artists and freelancers we have contracts and agreements with, and fast-tracking online content out to some of our community groups. 

At this point I want to extend a huge appreciation to all of our funders Highlands and Islands Enterprise, The Robertson Trust, Children In Need, Adam Family Foundation, NHS Grampian Endowment Fund, British Council and in particular Creative Scotland, who have been hugely supportive and trusting of Dance North and the wider arts and social enterprise sectors, encouraging flexibility and a commitment to paying and supporting artists and freelancers.  This is not a catch all solution by any means.  I do though believe that despite the unknown and the common experience of insecurity in the arts, our sector is proving its resilience.  Adding fuel to the resilience of Dance North is our lively sense of humour and hilarity and I’m glad to say the high morale and laughs are continuing over WhatsApp and Zoom – sometimes late into the night. 

Dance North is rooted in a set of values, by which I mean a set of principles or even standards, by which we as an organisation work.  I like to remind myself of them, and often, when I do, one or two stand out, prompting me to refocus on what’s important. Today as I read the lists, words seem to rise off the page and pair up into descriptive variations

Imaginative Partnerships… Flexible Creativity … Bold Fairness… Egalitarian Risk-taking…

They are like little energising reminders that what is crucially important, now and always, is people. Yes activity – the classes, shows, the artwork, the company – is important, but ultimately, it’s the people and relationships behind all this that matters staff, freelancers, dancers, audiences, professionals, local community, national and international visitors.  

As Dance North staff, we are, like many of you, adjusting to a new temporary lifestyle We are all working from home; some amongst young children, some amongst returning adult offspring; some negotiating the reduction in space, some have new exercise regimes; Zoom video meetings have become a new normal from our kitchen tables and home offices – whether from overcrowded or isolated homes; some of us are concerned or worried about vulnerable friends and family. We also want to be the best we can be at this time. 

Please stay in touch, we’d love to hear from you. Let us know what we can do better, what works and if and how we can help. 

Dance North’s work is rooted in the following artistic, social and political values:

Excellence           Imagination        Quality                  Risk-taking          Creativity             Boldness

Benefit                 Partnerships       Flexibility             Inclusivity            Fairness               Health & wellbeing

Sustainability     Egalitarianism    Resilience            Eco-friendly