Greenwich Dance announces closure

News | 23 October 2023

It is with great sadness that Greenwich Dance today announces it has entered redundancy consultation with all staff as it prepares to cease operations ahead of its forthcoming closure on 31 December 2023.

The Board’s decision to wind down the organisation comes following the Royal Borough of Greenwich’s shock decision in January this year to completely remove its longstanding Voluntary and Community Sector funding and an unsuccessful National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) application to Arts Council England in 2022.

Both significant developments have led to a major destabilisation of an already fragile funding situation, resulting in the loss of further Royal Borough of Greenwich project funds. Furthermore, a succession of nine Arts Council England National Lottery Project Fund applications have been rejected, the most recent of which likely due to the Government’s levelling up agenda.

Over the last year, Greenwich Dance has worked tirelessly to seek different funding models to support its work with artists and communities and protect its staff. Despite success in attracting funding from Trusts and Foundations including the National Lottery Community Fund, City Bridge Foundation, Garfield Weston Foundation, and Esmèe Fairbairn Foundation, and a successful community crowdfunder raising £10,000 towards space hire for its Dance for Wellbeing class programme, without support for its core costs Greenwich Dance is unable to continue operating.

In the five years since the organisation was removed from Arts Council England’s National Portfolio, Greenwich Dance has successfully navigated huge challenges and an incredibly unstable funding climate. During this period Greenwich Dance has brought in over £1.8m worth of funding for high quality dance-based activity in the local community, with almost half (£0.88m) of that being generated through successful relationships with 16 Trusts and Foundations. Since 2019 its in-person performances and workshops have seen over 43,000 attendances and its successful manoeuvre to digital work has received a further 115,000+ views and downloads.

Remembering a glorious Summer in the Park. Two dancers in red and gold have their hands raised. They are outside and it is raining.

Summer in the Park. Photo: Kinga Dawid

For 30 years Greenwich Dance has been an asset to the borough, existing to serve its community. It has been at the centre of participatory dance and artist development across South East London and beyond. In recent years it has established a number of successful projects including its Dance for Wellbeing class programme, free Summer in the Park festivals, its ArtsUnboxed platform to share dance works across the UK in a sustainable way and the popular Talking Moves podcast which ran for five series. The organisation remained active throughout the pandemic, delivering online classes, doorstep performances and outdoor socially distanced activities, to keep people moving and help tackle feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Participants in a community dance class

Dance for Wellbeing. Photo: Roswitha Chesher

Melanie Precious, CEO and Creative Director said: “It is with deep regret that we announce the closure of Greenwich Dance. Ever since the loss of our NPO funding in 2017 we have been consistently navigating financial challenges, but the lack of time we had to adjust to RBG’s withdrawal of funds earlier this year put the organisation into an immediate critical state. Add to that the context of the current political and socio-economic climate and it has simply become impossible to uphold our fundamental mission. By continually chasing project funding we risk limiting the organisation to whatever it is funded for. We believe in the transformational power of our work and if we are unable to fulfil this ambition then we cannot continue.

“I am proud of everything we have achieved over the last five years. The opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives with our work is what has knitted us all together as a team. Whilst we are all going through a process of grieving, we’re hoping to find a moment where we can come together to celebrate our considerable achievements and honour everyone who has worked so tirelessly to make Greenwich Dance the incredible organisation it is.”

Martha Oakes, Chair of Greenwich Dance’s Board of Trustees said: “On behalf of the Board I would like to thank Melanie Precious and the incredible team of staff at Greenwich Dance who have made the impossible possible, its dancing communities who have always been at the heart of the organisation, and the support from Trusts and Foundations who have offered a lifeline in recent years.”

Greenwich Dance is currently exploring a variety of options for its project-based work and community services to continue beyond the organisation. Further updates will be announced when appropriate.

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