News

Danceeast Receive Funding to Explore Exciting New Digital Territory in Schools

20 Apr 2021


Image credit: David Parry

DanceEast is delighted to announce it has been awarded a grant of £334,000 from Paul Hamlyn Foundation’s Arts-Based Learning Fund to support the development of an innovative digital teaching model – using technology to bring exciting learning concepts to life through dance.

The organisation has an ambition to transform dance teaching within primary schools across the region – believing that every child has the right to access the highest quality of learning.

DanceEast first started exploring how this might be possible in 2016, developing a model that blended in person and digital experiences, to create a whole new way of learning. This work was supported by an initial Explore and Test grant from Paul Hamlyn Foundation to investigate dynamic, yet cost effective, dance programmes in schools.

5 years on and despite the devastating impact of the pandemic, DanceEast is determined to build on the knowledge garnered from the widespread re-evaluation of the role of digital technologies in education and the arts – allowing the exploration of even more innovative territory.

This is a collaborative project and DanceEast will be working with Lead Artist, Tom Hobden, along with digital partners Collusion and Summer Isle Films – engaging at least 28 schools across the East and beyond. Partners and educators will work together to develop confidence and skills, using dance to help children engage with and interpret complex and exciting curriculum subjects.

Tom Hobden, Lead Artist said: “We are onto something really exciting here, repurposing the traditional school hall into a digital space – bringing the best culture to every child”.

DanceEast is at the forefront of digital dance developments in the UK, and this grant forms part of a package of ground-breaking projects. These include a collaboration with BT and a range of partners on a DCMS-funded project 5G Edge-XR, using a blend of virtual and augmented reality (XR), to create life-sized dance avatars in classroom settings.

In 2020 the organisation also secured funding from the Jerwood Foundation and the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, to create a Digital Dance Playground within the Jerwood DanceHouse. These new facilities provide Green Screen filming and broadcast quality lighting and camera equipment, as well as an on-site editing facility.

This award marks the next step for the organisation, and the sector – realising the potential for a new and exciting era for dance education and the arts.

Brendan Keaney, DanceEast Chief Executive and Artistic Director said“We are incredibly grateful to Paul Hamlyn Foundation for this transformational grant, which will enable us to realise our ambition to use rapidly evolving technologies to ensure all children can access the highest quality of dance teaching. As we transition out of lockdown measures, there has never been a more important time to level the playing field of opportunities for children and nurture their creativity. The support of Paul Hamlyn Foundation will allow us to explore some exciting new digital territory, creating a dynamic future for dance and boundless possibilities for children across the region”.