23 September 2010: Arts Council and University of Limerick announce new initiative in dance

The Arts Council and the University of Limerick has announced plans to undertake a feasibility study targeted at the development of dance education and professional training in Ireland. The joint initiative is being undertaken to investigate the creation of a new framework called the 'Step Up programme'. This programme arises in the context of ongoing implementation of Partnership for the Arts 2006-2010 and the policy paper, An Integrated Dance Strategy 2010-2012, which the Arts Council published earlier this year. 'Step Up' has the potential to represent a milestone development in the advancement of dance in Ireland. 

The lack of comprehensive provision for dance education and vocational training has been one of the main barriers to the development of the artform in this country. The Step Up programme has been conceived in order to address gaps in the formal dance education system, and also to improve opportunities for those talented dancers who necessarily move abroad to further their studies each year. Its purpose is to establish a structured environment for achieving three principal aims:
(i) to support the professional development of young dancers living in Ireland;
(ii) to assist the transition to a full-time professional career in dance;
(iii) to form professional connections between dancers who have trained abroad and the dance sector in Ireland.

In general terms, therefore, the Step Up programme aspires to create a means by which dancers can interact with or reconnect into the Irish professional dance scene and to formalise, through support, the process of undertaking professional training.  The Step Up programme will also provide an excellent reference for national and international partnerships and play an active role in furthering the development of training and educational initiatives in Ireland, e.g. by perhaps providing assistance in policy and research initiatives in those fields.

Following preliminary discussions, the Arts Council and the University of Limerick have agreed to co-fund a feasibility study to assess the level of demand for this programme, to propose how best to implement any initiatives arising and to identify those key organisations which appear well positioned to assist in realising this plan.

The feasibility study will be carried out by Dr Victoria O’Brien, with an expected completion date of December 2010.

Further information 

Davide Terlingo, Head of Dance
Arts Council / An Chomhairle Ealaíon
70 Merion Square
Dublin 2
Callsave: 1850 392492

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Yelemba dance troupe from the Ivory Coast - Clonmel Junction Festival.

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