The Programme:

The Wales Wide Training Programme (WWTP) aims to inspire and sustain community dance in Wales by providing training in a strategic way, responsive to sector need. 

WWTP responds to sector need and is primarily a training programme for those working in dance across Wales. It is managed by Rubicon Dance and creates and connects a network of twenty organisations and three hundred individuals working together to support training and professional development for the community dance sector across Wales. The programme is supported through Arts Council of Wales.

Image: A Fallen Angels Dance Theatre CPD session for WWTP – November 2020

The WWTP was established in 2013 with seven community dance organisations as partners. In 2021 there are now twenty partners that include not only community dance organisations, but venues, universities and national companies from across Wales including Powys, Carmarthen, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Caernarfon, Monmouthshire, Ceredigion, Cardiff, Llanelli and Flintshire.  The WWTP began with four strands in 2013 and now has nineteen strands some of which have been established in response to need and developed throughout the pandemic.  

 

Ongoing research, evaluation and consultation has continued to highlight strong demand for a training programme that responds to the strategic needs of the sector.  The programme was largely delivered through CPD days each term which took place across Wales and were hosted by WWTP partners. But, as the pandemic hit in March 2020 every strand of the WWTP was adapted to meet the more immediate needs and constraints.

The programme has included a massive range of activity and training approaches which have addressed diverse needs:

 

  • CPD training programmes  
  • Bursary Awards (for practitioners)
  • Strategy Meetings for the partners  
  • Policy Forum  
  • Best Practice Forums  
  • Mutual Exchange Programme (for partners)  
  • Dance Leader Exchange Programme (for practitioners)  
  • Evaluation Forums  
  • Graduate information sessions  
  • One to one sessions via Zoom  
  • Network Meetings 
  • Creative Practice Support Sessions
  • Skills Sharing Sessions
  • Scaffolded series of training support in specialist areas including Evaluation, Dance for People Living with Parkinson’s, Dance, Digital and Participation, Sensing Welsh, Developing Bilingual Practice through the Body, Dance on Prescription and Dance for Older People
  • Community Dance Apprentice Training Programmes
  • Mentor development and training
  • Focus Groups – eg Social Prescribing
  • Films
  • Welsh language practice support sessions for practitioners

 

Every conversation between us provided more and more discoveries and insights into the professional roles we both walk as arts practitioners in arts and health. We are grateful and inspired to know we are not alone and we are here to support each other.

 

The Impact:

“I have thoroughly enjoyed the sessions I have attended, always leaving feeling more enriched and rounded as a dance practitioner. I find taking time to reflect and refresh gives me new energy, ideas and affirms my love and commitment to dance in Wales. I really have taken so much from the WWTP CPD’s and sessions and the atmosphere is just lovely, so supportive!”

 

On Practitioners:

The WWTP provides support to practitioners in many ways. Through connection and support with others the programme provides emotional and social support but it also supports practitioners physically and intellectually with new skill sets and ideas.

 

Extensive evaluation and feedback from practitioners highlights the following key impacts on them and their practice:

 

  • Connection
    • “I have never felt so connected to dance across Wales as I have through Wales Wide Training Programme” 
    • “I feel more connected now than I have ever been. I have been introduced to so many other dance practitioners from across Wales.”

 

  • Skills and Practice Development
    • “The WWTP has proved invaluable to me as a community dance practitioner. It provides high quality and very relevant training and allows practitioners from all over Wales to connect and share best practice.”
    • “The whole process has been so rich – I feel extremely lucky to have had this opportunity which has allowed me the time to really develop my practice through supported reflection.”

 

  • Professional gain
    • “What I find with WWTP is that there is an all-inclusive approach in reaching out to practitioners. Regardless of age or experience there is something that all of us can tap into.  Challenges with promoting work and securing the next “job” often revolve around who you know and how you approach organisations.  These sessions are giving opportunities to freelancers in an attempt to open these channels, even during lockdowns. They are listening to what we need and doing everything they can to offer resources addressing those needs.”

 

  • Career Support
    • “K provided a very poignant career outline that provided insightful windows on the highs and lows which is so vitally important in understanding how to navigate your own career aspirations.  I feel truly inspired and reflective in my considerations, and mindful of the impact of now.”
    • I am a budding community dance practitioner and since graduating in 2018 I have been trying to find my feet in the community dance world - but have found my progress slowed this past year. The few opportunities I did have were taken away, and my mental health took a big hit. WWTP has been so supportive to me”

 

  • Networking with practitioners across Wales
    • “WWTP provides an invaluable structure through which the sector can network.  A particular focus is provided through the Best Practice Forum which highlights areas of good practice, keep us up to date with new developments and provides a platform for discussion of key topical issues.”
    • “The WWTP is a lifeline! Fabulous training which is relevant and always meets sector needs. Helps to challenge and update my practice and provides excellent networking opportunities”.
    • “Very important that Rubicon and WWTP keep providing a place – virtual and face to face for practitioners to come together under the common theme of refining what we do and to keep learning, adapting and shaping our practice in a way that is supportive and vibrant for our participants – great!”

 

  • Confidence
    • “My confidence in working with people living with Parkinson’s has increased so much …. I have also gained confidence in taking a collaborative and improvisational approach to leading and allowing ideas to emerge by following the group’s interests. Ensuring that there is space for individual responses within the work is also important to the dancers.”

 

  • Care and Emotional Support
    • As a newcomer to South Wales, I have felt incredibly welcomed and nurtured by my interactions with WWTP, which goes a long way for me, especially during these socially distanced and difficult times we’re all living through. Thank you so much for all the warmth and kindness, I will be sure to pass it on to the people I work with.”

 

On Partners:

 “During our WWTP Mutual Exchange Programme both Ballet Cymru and National Youth Dance Wales have had opportunity to understand and explore each other’s organisations and this is really benefitting our budding partnership. We know partnerships work best when there is a shared ethos and understanding and the Mutual Exchange Programme is enabling both organisations to have the opportunity to discover how this partnership offers support and will work at its best”

 Amy Doughty, Assistant Artistic Director/ Cyfarwyddwr Artistig Cynorthwyol, Ballet Cymru

 

“Cardiff Metropolitan University joined WWTP in 2017 as part of our Civic Engagement programme.   It has become a very important partnership to us for a number of reasons.  The quality of training and CPD opportunities are excellent and are always designed in response to the expressed need of the dance sector …… The Dance Pathway at Cardiff Met focuses on applied learning in community and education contexts. As such, partnerships built with community arts and dance organisations via WWTP are important in helping us to realise our student experience.  A recent Mutual Exchange Programme award with Artis Community facilitated invaluable discussion and opened up possibilities of future collaborative models between HEIs and arts organisations.” 

Heidi Wilson, Senior Lecturer (Dance), Cardiff School of Sport and Health Sciences, Cardiff Metropolitan University

 

 

 On the Training Leaders:

"The Wales Wide Training Programme (Inspirational Speaker Series) - wonderfully organised by Tracey from Rubicon - was a rich gathering of artists from a broad range of ages, interests, and experiences. These moments of coming together always provide a great opportunity to reflect and recalibrate passions alongside other creatives, and it was a rewarding event to have been a part of; both personally and professionally. Thank you for inviting me!"

Kerry Nicholls, International Dance Leader and Director of Kerry Nicholls Dance 

 

"Fallen Angels Dance Theatre delivered a workshop for practitioners seven years ago through WWTP. Since then they have kindly asked me back annually, our relationship strengthening and developing. We share values and ethos through our person-centred approaches in dance, and we hope that we can find new and exciting ways to collaborate and work in partnership moving forwards. Rubicon Dance for me is like my second home!" 

Paul Bayes Kitcher Artistic Director Fallen Angels Dance Theatre.

 

“It was a total pleasure to be part of the Wales Wide Training Programme and to connect with 50 inspirational dance artists. An engaging conversation with a range of artists delivering important work across Wales”.

Wayne McGregor, CEO, Choreographer and Artistic Director, Studio Wayne McGregor

 

On the Ecology:

 “ …. the support and camaraderie amongst WWTP partners gives a real sense that together we can achieve more.”

 

“Being in north Wales, there is a vast geographical divide between the north and the south.  A positive outcome, therefore, of a tragic situation with this pandemic is that virtual interaction can remove some of those physical barriers normally in place, which has expanded my network to reach beyond local borders.”

 

“WWTP has been so helpful for the Welsh dance community – I feel more connected now than I have ever been. I have been introduced to so many other dance practitioners from across Wales.”

On Dance Practices:

The story of dance with people living with Parkinson’s in Wales is inextricably linked with the WWTP.  Like sisters, the two are growing up together, finding a voice and a sense of identity. Perhaps now in their late teens, looking ahead to future possibilities, aspirations and directions.  Nearing a time for bold decisions, expanded horizons and grand adventures.  This national journey also reflects a personal one.  Dance with people living with Parkinson’s has become central to my practice, a site where my identity as a community dance artist has found a home. “

 

The Impact of Covid

"WWTP has been incredible during the pandemic. It has been a real lifeline with tangible opportunities to connect, learn and develop and allowed me to be me.  WWTP made me realise my value and gave me the motivation that I needed to not let that spark of me go out" 

“It was a lifeline during the pandemic which was so hard and lonely. Through meeting other practitioners I realised I wasn’t going through this alone and that working online was new to all.”

 

As the pandemic hit in March 2020 every strand of the WWTP was adapted - timings of sessions via Zoom changed with sessions becoming shorter, costings were adapted accordingly, packages and series of training programmes were offered rather than one day events. This approach increased the programme exponentially and between May 2020 and July 2021 there were 1480 total attendances involving 142 individuals who have engaged with the programme across 142 events

 

Practitioners turned to WWTP to gain support in such difficult times.  

 

  • One to one and small group sessions were introduced to the programme from May 2020 as freelance dance practitioners were losing work and needed support.  
  • Recent dance graduates were offered a WWTP information session and this was organised along with one of the WWTP partners National Youth Arts Wales. The dance graduates were then encouraged to attend events that were relevant to them eg Inspirational Speaker Series, Skills Share Sessions, Network Meetings and Best Practice Forums.
  • Creative Practice Support Sessions were provided to support practitioners in navigating the storms:

“The sessions were an invaluable lifeline to me during the autumn term. Work was scarce and I was losing faith in my creativity, skills and knowledge. I was looking to a career change away from the arts as I could not see a viable future for myself. The dancing and talking sessions were so valuable to remind me of why I dance, why dance is important (and essential) and that there is always a way to make it work. Moving creatively allowed me to think creatively again, to see the ways through this difficult period. The sessions were expertly led and I felt supported and in safe hands throughout. They are so important to know they are there and that we can access them if needed. Being a freelancer is lonely at the best of times, and the pandemic has exacerbated this problem. The Creative Practice Support Sessions brought us together, to move together and the power of that cannot be underestimated.” 

 

Because most of the activity was delivered online many practitioners said that they were joining more training and events because travel and accommodation were no longer barriers. So the move to digital delivery increased accessibility. It also allowed costs to be reduced. However, the programme continued to offer some free spaces for freelancers to attend and practitioners were encouraged to attend sessions at no cost to them if funds were currently an issue.

 

“Not having been a part of this network prior to the pandemic, I have nothing to compare it to regarding past events, but as an organisation successfully navigating a complex system of virtual delivery and continued support, they have shown exceptional resilience and growth.  As time passes and I participate in the diverse opportunities that are offered, I feel a growing connection to the network and its practitioners. “

 

I feel that we have developed as a community of dance professionals – we have had more contact with one another through Zoom. We have had opportunities to have genuine conversations at a deeper level, facilitated through WWTP. Community of learners at different stages of development.”

 

Key Success Factors

 

Leadership

  • “In all of my interactions with Rubicon Dance and WWTP their approach is filled with listening, kindness and a people first approach. I have found the organisation to be forward thinking and responsive and their community dance practitioners are friendly, open and keen to learn for themselves and their communities. In short they are a joy to work alongside and will be one of my go to Welsh organisations”. 

 

Knowing what is needed

  • “The Evaluation sessions came at exactly the right time and changed the way I work. I would never have even thought about Evaluation – Tracey you know what we need before we do ourselves! The project I was working on needed this Evaluation training so much. The journey of the project changed and was richer for it.”
  • “Tracey I think you saw the bigger picture of the pandemic before we did – great mentorship about running this programme through a pandemic. You know what we need Tracey and get it organised and in place! You see the benefit to the sector across Wales and this enables us to meet sometimes new and often like-minded practitioners.”

 

The ‘right’ artists and speakers

  • Stimulating and experienced speakers who were able to contextualise the Arts and Health agenda, illustrate with examples art interventions with positive outcomes. They were also able to give advice and support and encouragement to the dance sector to play a role in the health agenda. Excellent!”

 

Relevance

  • “The training always gives us tools to follow through with.”

 

Long term sustained approaches

  • “This long-term and sustained approach has allowed deep reflection and supported practice development within a relationship of trust”

 

Breaking down barriers to access

  • “A varied programme affordable and accessible to all.”

 

Great communication and attention to detail

  • “Text reminders, checking in on people”
  • “The reminder texts are so appreciated – you realise we are all so busy.”
  • “Tracey has managed the programme amazingly well – every little detail counts – reminder emails – incredible fine details, feedback gathered, handouts and presentations always circulated. Made training very easy to access.”

 

Warmth, kindness, care and humanity – person centred approach

  • “Tracey has been an amazing support for so many people through the pandemic. She is like a much-needed hug! Her approach is warm, secure, safe and very creative. “
  • “Tracey was the first person to get in touch with me at the start of the pandemic – checking I was ok – made me feel part of a community. She checked in on how I was feeling and how things were for me work wise. It was so important to be connected through the pandemic.”

 

 

 “The Rubicon and Wales Wide Training Programme offer has allowed a linking up of practitioners across North, South and Mid Wales in a way that I hope will allow further collaborations, connections and help in building a resilient and strong network of support in the coming years to practitioners who might have otherwise felt more alone.”

 

This short review draws on an extensive body of material gathered by Tracey Brown, Mentoring, Training and Development Leader at Rubicon Dance - who coordinates the Wales Wide Training Programme (WWTP) - over eight years of delivery. The words in italics are all quotes from feedback from participants. The material has been edited by Dr Susanne Burns.

 

Please click on the links below for the WWTP films - CPD and Bursary Award strands, plus a recent film made through the pandemic where twelve dance practitioners from across Wales were asked to talk about what WWTP had offered them throughout the pandemic.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TK4VuvwnVrE&t=1s 

 

https://youtu.be/ekJa-IRmzbc

 

https://youtu.be/U0SF28NQNvU

 

The following blogs were written for People Dancing in 2021 and can be found on the website www.communitydance.org.uk

 

 

WWTP wins Dance Advocacy Award, One Dance UK 2021!

“The One Dance UK Awards are an annual celebration for people from across the dance sector to unite, celebrate, acknowledge and reward the people who have made an impact on the vibrant UK dance landscape! Championing the excellent work of dance artists, teachers, practitioners, educators, schools, choreographers, companies, venues, scientists, and writers, this is a glittering evening of celebrations, all for those who contribute to the dance sector throughout the UK”.

On Friday November 19th the annual and prestigious One Dance UK Awards took place online. We were absolutely thrilled to have won the Dance Advocacy Award for Wales Wide Training Programme.

For more information on Wales Wide Training Programme please contact Tracey Brown, Mentoring, Training, Development Leader at Rubicon Dance [email protected]