Update: we have launched a crowdfunding campaign to help raise funds towards our next festival, and we would be extremely grateful for your support. You can read more about our campaign here: www.cloud-dance-festival.org.uk/admin/crowdfunding.html

Cloud Dance Festival has never received funding; our only income is from ticket sales and, since July ’09, from a nominal participation fee charged to each company. We use this money to cover theatre, studio and lighting hire, posters, flyers and programmes, and to pay for our lighting designer, photographer and video editor. Each festival normally just about breaks even, but not always.

We have prided ourselves on our unfunded status, especially as we wanted to demonstrate what can be achieved without funding; also we wanted to demonstrate that the company is financially viable and stable before seeking funding. Cloud Dance Festival however has now grown to the stage where funding is essential in order to sustain our development and allow us to expand further.

Traditional funding is somewhat limited to us as the festival is a recurring project. Nevertheless, we produce high-quality performances with the core aim of developing new audiences; we seek to nurture and promote promising and talented dance artists at all stages of their career; we actively encourage the creation of new work, helping artists to develop artistically and to develop their portfolios; we create a platform accessible to artists from all around the country, and we also seek to support emerging dance writers and photographers, as their support is essential to the success of each festival.

Therefore, we our funding options are limited to only a few funding bodies, and sponsorship and donations.

Our funding needs

We have two immediate funding needs:

- core funding: it is absolutely essential that we have a small team of full-time experienced staff working on Cloud Dance Festival as the current model is no longer sustainable or even productive. We need a producer, a fundraising/marketing person and an administrator.

- funding for festivals: currently the majority of our staff are unpaid or charging substantially reduced rates. This incurs the risk of losing the staff we have acquired to date. Also, we need to start using midscale theatres (seating approx 200-350) to reflect the quality of our performers, and our increasing audience size. Unfortunately, these theatres cost significantly more and cannot be funded through ticket sales alone.

Another critical need is for Cloud Dance Festival to either be based at a specific theatre, or to have a theatre of its own. We have suffered a number of setbacks through being based at a series of different theatres, and we lack the resources to hunt for venues, which is a full-time task in itself! Also, there are very few theatres in London which are capable of presenting professional-standard dance performances, and their availability is extremely limited.

In addition, we have had to relocate one festival per year (out of three) due to last-minute venue issues.

Future plans

Due to obvious resource shortages, we are unable to create long-term plans and instead focus on the year to come, and then review our progress to date.

Our key aim is to address how Cloud Dance Festival can better serve the needs of the industry. We have conducted initial surveys of some of our performers to determine what their core artistic needs are; once we have completed this survey, we will review what is achievable, and how to go about implementing it. For example, a point which is continually raised is the need for mentorship, which would require us forging the necessary links for our selected participants.

We would also like to establish a sponsored awards scheme in order to merit our most successful performers of each festival. Not only would this add to the prestige of Cloud Dance Festival, it would also be an enormous bonus for the recipients in establishing their careers.

We have devised a plan of supporting artistic development, eg. associate artists, commissioning new works, creating a travel bursary for artists based in the UK regions (this would not be available for overseas artists); offering performance slots to promising final-year students and new graduates, but we have not yet had the opportunity or resources to implement them.

We are continuing to evaluate the best way for Cloud Dance Festival to proceed, but without financial support or funding it is extremely difficult for us to continue.