Spin Arts and Dance Studio Leeds introduce ‘Artists Studio’, a research and creation space in Leeds for dance artists that reflect, support or celebrate diversity.

Funded through Arts Council England National Lottery Funding, diverse artists and ideas that represent voices from across the Protected Characteristics (age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership and pregnancy and maternity) as well as class and socio-economic background, will be invited/selected to be in residence at the ‘Artists Studio’, situated at The Dance Studio Leeds, Mabgate Mills, Leeds. The artistic focus is in response to Arts Council’s Creative Case for Diversity.

The ‘Artist Studio’ is part curated and part open invitation. Invited/selected dance artists will receive in-kind studio space, support from Spin Arts and the possibility of some financial sustenance.

The Curated Bit

We have already identified several international, national and local dance artists that we intend to host/support through the project. These include; Malaysian born internationally recognised Bharatanatyam and Contemporary dance artist Mavin Khoo, National Dance Award Nominee (2015 & 2016) Spanish Choreographer Carlos Pons Guerra, South Yorkshire raised Irish and Contemporary dance artist Keira Martin, multi award winning Birmingham based Kathak artist Sonia Sabri, Jamaican born, and England raised Akeim Toussaint Buck, best known for his interests in Capoeira, Caribbean styles, Hip Hop and Contemporary Dance.

The Open Invitation Bit

Artists that meet the guiding principles (see protected characteristic) are invited to propose ideas they would like to develop in the ‘Artist Studio’. We want to make this process as easy and efficient as possible so there is no application process with deadlines. Simply text, WhatsApp or email, Sarah or Rosie at Spin Arts, to arrange an appropriate time to talk.

You may want to prepare the following information for our chat:
  • Your artistic idea

  • An idea of who you want to work with

  • A bit about your background and future ideas

  • How Spin Arts can help you

  • What barriers you face to accessing this opportunity

Obviously, we may ask artists to follow up initial conversations with more detailed project briefs, examples of work and track record etc. but we don’t want people to spend time writing up proposals unless we genuinely think they are a good match for the opportunity.

We will make this decision based on:
  • How innovative or exciting we think the idea is

  • Whether we can contribute something or add value to the development of the artist/idea

  • If we have the appropriate networks to support the artist/idea beyond the studio

  • How the artist/idea contributes to the rich and diverse tapestry of art/artists that we want to support/want to see developed in Leeds.

Let’s be transparent – we are dealing with art and it’s subjective. If an artist/idea isn’t selected, then we will do our best to articulate our reasons why and signpost elsewhere.

We are keen to hear from artists that:
  • Have a specific artistic idea they want to research, develop or create

  • Have the ambition/desire for the work to eventually reach the public

  • Intend to work on the artistic idea sometime between September 2018-June 2019

  • Would like to explore/test/deepen a working relationship with Spin Arts

  • Prepared to think/dream internationally – taking inspiration from or work beyond the UK.

What the 'Artists Studio' isn't:
  • It isn’t a space for daily practice – ‘standby space’ is available in the city for that

  • It isn’t a ‘scheme’ – It’s a project because of the nature of our funding but we aren’t going to ‘put you through anything’ and our relationships don’t necessarily end when funding does

  • It isn’t just ‘free’ space – we genuinely want to engage and where possible help artists with their artistic ideas, whether that be with producing support, brokering, advocacy or financial support. Be prepared for open dialogues.

  • It isn’t a space for Leeds based artists only – we recognise that artists can be transient so welcome proposals from anywhere.

About the space:

13m by 8m Dance Mat Flooring, Kitchenette with tea/coffee facilities, self-contained studio, PA system, sprung dance floor and full-length mirrors, High ceiling and natural light, Toilets and changing area, free wi-fi throughout the building, free evening and weekend parking, reception and office offering on-site service and support, electrics piano, portable ballet barres, TV with DVD player, projector, desks and chairs.

Why we are doing it:

Over the last 6.5 years Spin Arts has supported artists to realise their creative ambitions. We have done this via training, mentoring, consultancy, fundraising and producing. These services are often paid for by artists/organisations employing us (even if we do help them to get the money in the first place). There is something about this transaction that makes us a little uncomfortable, so this is an opportunity for Spin Arts to make an offer back to artists. To be more pro-active and a little less reactive. We hope this project will help us to develop new relationships with more diverse artists, who will shape our portfolio and inform the artistic outputs/projects we support or produce in forthcoming years.

If you don’t know who we are, here’s more about us:

Spin Arts is made up of two independent producers. We believe that independents can support other independents to thrive and can play a role in providing infrastructure/opportunities for one another. Sarah Shead (Director and Creative Producer at Spin Arts) trained in dance in the UK and Canada. Sarah spent the first 6.5 years of her career working in development organisations such as; Creative Partnerships, Dance4 and Yorkshire Dance. Rosie Watt trained in contemporary dance and completed an MA in business in Newcastle, before taking part in a Trainee Producer Programme with The Empty Space and Dance City – through which she met Sarah in 2014. She subsequently relocated to Leeds 2 years ago to join Spin Arts as Associate Creative Producer. We now work side by side with a range of international artists that are award winning, critically acclaimed or credited as ‘ones to watch’. We love our job because we get to spend our days with people who see, think and dare to imagine the world differently.

Katie Geddes (Owner of Dance Studio Leeds) trained in dance and drama in the midlands. She’s ran the studio since 2009 and specialises in classes and workshops for adults and providing studio space for the community. Katie is keen to help the dance ecology grow in Leeds and is always open to collaborations and opportunities to supports dance and the artists. Katie loves her job because each day she gets to share her passions with others – from seasoned performers to dance beginners.

Spin Arts and Dance Studio Leeds have come together to pilot this opportunity over the next 12 months. Please get in touch by the end of 2018 if you are developing ideas and wish to be considered for space and other support.

*Please note project funding runs until June 2019.

Sarah Shead – 07849 670200 / sarah@spin-arts.com

Rosie Watt – 07762 750193 / rosie@spin-arts.com