by Roger Lee for The Dance Journal
Dance collaborations seem to be gaining popularity. In the Philadelphia area, several dance companies and organizations are collaborating with each other and other creative institutions. Dance collaborations have produced innovation, shared resources, and new audiences. These collaborations are great to witness.
Here are 3 exciting trends that I see happening in the world of dance collaborations.
Trend 1: Guest Performing
There are lots of dance groups performing in each other’s concerts, showcases, and informal showings. Many groups used to commission guest choreographers to set new work on dancers for performance. This has morphed into today’s current trend where dance groups ask other groups to perform in their concerts as special guests. This is exciting for the producing company, the guest company, and the audience. The producing company gets a chance to breathe in between pieces, network with other dancers, and provide an opportunity to the guest company. The guest company gets a chance to perform without the pressure of producing their own work, network with other artists, and generate new audiences. The audience gets to see more diverse dance on stage and support more artists. This presents a win-win situation for all parties involved.
Not sure where to begin? Just ask you favorite dance companies if they’d like to perform a piece or two in your next concert. It may become a tradition or a special one-time occurrence for your company. In any case, having a guest company will be an exciting experience for all.
Trend 2: Co-Producing
Some dance groups are taking their collaboration a step further by co-producing events. This divides everything in half including the artistic content, production costs, marketing and promotion, and stress! The earned revenue is also split in half among both producing parties. However, co-producing dance groups often enjoy having someone to share the intense workload with. They also enjoy sharing audiences, cross promoting, and developing a larger support base for dance.
What could a co-producing relationship look like for dance groups? Perhaps both parties would divvy up all of the production costs and responsibilities evenly. Another option is to have each dance group focus on their areas of strengths. For example, dance group X may have a track record of filling seats, securing media coverage, and inspiring lots of “likes”, “shares”, and “tweets” online. In this case it would make a lot of sense for dance group X to handle all of the marketing and communications associated with an event. If dance group Y is great with finances, contracts, and customer service, they should probably take on all of these duties. This ensures that each dance group shines individually, contributes to the producing partnership, and helps make the collaborative event a true success.
A great way to start a co-producing relationship is by brainstorming. Jot down your favorite dance groups, ones that you have a past professional relationship with, and ones that you think may be interested in working with you. Once you have your list generated, reach out to your prospective collaborators. You may shock yourself and end up in a collaboration that is better than you imagined!
Trend 3: Mergers
With the state of the economy, many arts organizations are looking to merge. While the desire to merge normally comes from financial desperation, it often ends up being one of the most exciting parts of an organization’s history. Mergers, if done correctly, can save costs, build new audiences, and most importantly drive mission in the most powerful way possible. As the old saying goes, “two heads are better than one.” A merger can become a powerful arts entity that combines all resources to drive mission in a way that two separate organizations simply could not do.
While mergers and alliances are common in the for-profit sector, it is a newer concept for the non-profit arts industry. Not sure exactly where to begin? Joe Kluger and Dr. Thomas Wolf of WolfBrown, a major non-profit consulting firm, recommend the following 8 steps towards strategic mergers and alliances:
Step 1 – Complete Organizational Assessments
Step 2 – Form Collaboration Subcommittee
Step 3 – Engage Neutral Facilitator
Step 4 – Develop Decision Making Schedules and a Communications Plan
Step 5 – Interview Stakeholders
Step 6 – Choose Organizational Structure Options
Step 7 – Identify Key Policy Issues
Step 8 – Obtain Consensus
Read more about their 8 steps here in an article by By Joe Kluger and Dr. Thomas Wolf
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