Research, Cultural Policy, Intervention Strategy
Project Supported by Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan and the Royal Norwegian Embassy.
In association with Gati Dance Forum.
Dance Union grew out of a two-year project called ‘Working in Research, Advocacy and Policy’ (W.R.A.P.), which was launched in 2011 in New Delhi.
The primary aim of the project was to intervene in and improve the physical infrastructure available for dancers in the city. Space is essential for dancers to train for, create and present their art. In order to understand how to achieve these goals, Dance Union undertook a study of available support for dancers, including a historical analysis of State-led support. The project carries the findings from the historical analysis and the fieldwork, undertaken by W.R.A.P, to present a case for the infrastructure intervention that Dance Union proposes.
TRACING THE HISTORY OF DANCE INFRASTRUCTURE IN DELHI
The Indian Government provided support for the arts soon after independence, most prominently through the creation of the Sangeet Natak Akademi in 1953 and several allied institutions that were established in the following decades. Grants-in-aid, physical infrastructure for artists and allotting land for the arts were other provisions made by the Government.
The Government’s rationale for aiding the arts was varied. The first reason was to help artists who would no longer have access to systems of patronage that existed in pre-independent India, including those of the princely states. In addition to this, art could contribute to the process of nation building as it was viewed as a social bond that could unite the new and seemingly disparate country.
The structure and functioning of support for the arts, including dance, largely focused on bureaucratic systems and while these may have been required over 60 years ago, it is time to re-evaluate these structures and allow for a more democratic and decentralized approach with a greater involvement from the dance community in decision-making processes.
STUDY & DOCUMENTATION OF INFRASTRUCTURE FOR DANCE IN DELHI
In this context, Dance Union has emerged from a two-year study of the physical infrastructure available in the city and seeks to implement an infrastructure revival project through a more democratic approach. Dance Union will revitalize three venues in Delhi through a community-led and participatory method. The three venues will include both performance and rehearsal spaces. Although, Dance Union is currently based out of and is focusing on Delhi, the intervention can be replicated in other cities as well.
The project team conducted a ground level qualitative analysis of dance spaces in Delhi through interviews with venue managers and practioners in the field of dance. 151 dance spaces that could be utilized for performance, rehearsal or educational purposes were identified and 60 performance and rehearsal spaces were studied in greater detail. In addition to this, 31 individuals associated with dance were interviewed. These consultations resulted in the following findings with aspects related to Spatial Features, Programming and Management, Utilization and Governance of the spaces.