2012 was an exceptionally fine vintage – not just for Déda but for the UK as a whole! The Olympics, Cultural Olympiad and Diamond Jubilee demonstrated Britain at its best, fostering a sense of optimism and community spirit which the continuing economic downturn could not undermine!
I think that it is typical of Déda’s entrepreneurship and civic leadership that we were able to embed ourselves into much of this celebratory activity once again demonstrating the vital cultural role we play within Derby and the wider region.
We have worked hard with other arts organisations in the City to identify new ways of working to generate new income streams, pool resources and share expertise where possible. Whilst this has been a valuable exercise the options analysis still highlights the on-going need for public subsidy to culture if Derby is to achieve its wider vision of being a vibrant City within a wider regional and European context. At Quads 5th birthday celebrations, John Forkin, CEO Marketing Derby, paid tribute to the important role venues such as Déda and Quad play in wider inward investment strategies providing the services and facilities needed to attract professional businesses to Derby. This I think is an important aspect of our work which can sometimes be overlooked.
Despite the on-going threat of major funding cuts, Déda has remained true to its core mission to provide local people with the chance to engage in high quality dance activity as well as supporting a wider local arts ecology including visual arts, physical theatre and music.
Over the past year Déda has delivered 68 performances and 8 exhibitions which were seen by over 5000 people and 24,000 people participated in our dance classes. We have provided employment not just for 44 local people on our staff but also invested in 58 companies and over 180 performers as well as wider local businesses providing goods and services.
Our Cultural Olympiad project, Games Time, continued on its regal procession across the region visiting Loughborough, Northampton and Derby engaging communities and creating incredible outdoor events to remain in the memory. Over 35,000 people were estimated to have seen the event in which 480 local people performed, both amateur and professional and aged from 6 – 90, demonstrating how successfully dance projects can be used to foster community pride and engagement.
The Arts Council once again demonstrated its trust in us by awarding strategic funds for us to develop and deliver an arts-based outdoor project linked to wider tourism objectives. The result was the spectacular Elemental Force project which toured to four historic locations and was seen by 7,000 people. The project marked the beginning of a longer term partnership with the Chatsworth Estate as well as providing opportunities to foster new relationships with local authorities and heritage sites across the region. We are immensely grateful to his Grace, the Duke of Devonshire, for his whole-hearted support and for championing the project to others and we look forward to working with him and his staff again.
Another partnership which has strengthened greatly over this past year has been with the University of Derby and we were delighted that Professor Chris White, Head of Art and Design, was able to join our board. Déda has been actively engaged with the exciting new theatre programme developing at the University to ensure mid-scale dance can come to Derby. This year has also seen the research and development phase of an exciting joint project to establish a new kind of dance course at the University. By complementing the University’s existing theatre based courses, this new course would provide an extraordinary opportunity for young people to engage in high-quality dance teaching. By using our facilities, connections and expertise, the course would provide the very best teaching experience possible whilst securing a new source of revenue funding for us to create a more sustainable future.
Déda continued to build its role as a creative hub for artists and wider professionals involved in the arts.
The On-site programme delivered training and capacity building to the next generation of producers working on outdoor work raising standards and fostering new artistic collaborations.
We were delighted at the critical success of our young dance companies with Bounceback representing the East Midlands at the national U dance platform.
We pride ourselves on nurturing emerging talent and enabling more established artists to take creative risks through our residency programme and providing access to much needed rehearsal space. This year we have welcomed Alice Vale and Tom Dale whilst previous associates such as Maison Foo have continued to be supported as they grow in reputation and profile.
The year ended on an extraordinary high with the award of Arts Council Capital funding towards realising our vision for a new £430,000 space for dance and circus activity. When I took on the Chair’s role one of my personal ambitions was to see the building expand to enable us to develop our offer, increase the opportunity to present more complex work and expand our role in delivering outstanding outdoor work. We are very grateful to the City Council for sharing our vision and providing us with the chance to expand next door and to all of our funders for investing in us. It is hoped by next year I will be able to report that the fund-raising campaign has been completed successfully but we have already made significant progress.
Once again none of this would have been possible without our fantastic staff – we are fortunate to have an excellent senior management team who have worked exceptionally hard to deliver such a wide range of initiatives and fund-raising. They are supported by a great team and whilst it has been sad to see some excellent staff leave us this year, we are pleased to welcome new staff on board.
As Chair I would also like to pay tribute once again to my Board who have provided many hours of free advice and support covering so many aspects of our work – from fundraising to human resource issues, marketing to managing capital building projects. This year we have said goodbye to Hetain Patel who will be sorely missed for his skills and knowledge as a practicing artist. We were also sad to say goodbye to our Arts Council Relationship Manager, Raul Calderon whose expertise and support was greatly valued.
The significant reduction in our budget for the coming year will once again be financially extremely challenging but in reviewing the success, energy and dynamism of this part year it is to be hoped that working together with our partners and stakeholders we can find a sustainable way in which we can continue to play a major role in Derby’s on-going success as a thriving and competitive City.
Michaela Butter MBE