Jane Attenborough Award Winner: Frank Doran

Frank DoranFrank Doran MP for Aberdeen North, has worked tirelessly at Westminster since 2004 to champion dance as an art form and also for the positive benefits it brings to the health, education and society.

His was inspired to become an advocate for dance when he was part of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee Enquiry into Dance in 2004. When the report was published Frank arranged for Random Dance to give the first ever dance performance in Portcullis House at Westminster.

In 2006, Frank became the main force behind the creation of the All Party Parliamentary Dance Group becoming its founding Secretary. With Dance UK he rallied a group of parliamentarians from all political parties in the House of Commons and the House of Lords, who are all committed to raising the profile of dance at Westminster.

He also secured a high profile Chairman for the Group, Sir Gerald Kaufman.

Since then, Frank and his wonderful assistant Caitriona Bearryman, have given their time and knowledge to make the All Party Dance Group a real asset for the industry.

In nine years Frank has helped us:

• Secured meetings with Ministers across Government to make the case for Dance as an art form and for its social benefits.
• Made it possible for dance companies and organisations to showcase their work to politicians and decision makers.
• Lobbied to ensure the Government published the 2007 report on Dance Education and Youth Dance resulting in £5.5 million investment in Youth Dance England.
• Organised a debate in Westminster challenging the Government’s comments about dance being a “soft subject” at GCSE and A-Level.
• Secured a 10 minute rule bill into the importance of quality dance teaching
• Organised numerous briefings in Westminster on topics as wide as the importance of dance in schools to the success of the National Youth Dance Company of England, meeting young dancers and teachers, as well as Artistic Directors and dance managers.
• Helped secure parity between contemporary dancers and ballet dancers in immigration policy.
• And he’s recently secured the Attlee Suite at Westminster to launch the new Dance Manifesto and hold a lindy-hop class for polticians on 23 February!

This year, Frank Doran will step down as an MP at the election in May, and we will sadly miss his and Caitriona’s passion and support at Westminster, but his legacy will be the considerable progress dance has made within Government, and the strong group of political supporters we can now turn to at Westminster.

UPDATE: 6 December 2017

Frank Doran sadly passed away on 31 October 2017. His obituary can be found on the One Dance UK News page.

Caroline Miller, former Director of Dance UK (now One Dance UK), comments:

“It’s such sad news that Frank Doran MP has died – he really was the driving force for the creation and impact of the All Party Parliamentary Dance Group when I started working at Dance UK in 2006. Dance was trailing far behind music in being brought to the attention of politicians. Frank was a pragmatic, clever and committed politician and he taught me personally so much and shared his sage advice with the whole dance industry about how to more effectively make the case for dance, both as an art form and for its health and community benefits.

“Frank was not doing this for self-aggrandisement – as soon as he agreed to help Dance UK set up the All Party Dance Group he was clear that we needed a Chairman or woman who was more high profile than him. He identified Sir Gerald Kaufman MP from their work together on the Culture Select Committee and also because he knew Sir Gerald was passionate and hugely knowledgeable about dance. Together, they, along with their dedicated assistants Caitriona Bearryman and Rima Howard, helped us establish a vibrant and effective group of politicians from both the House of Commons and House of Lords, who together learnt about the breadth of dance in the UK and helped us argue the case for dance at Westminster.

“It was Frank’s respect amongst his fellow politicians that secured us meetings with top ministers; even politicians on the opposite side of the political fence would talk to Frank. Michael Gove MP, who he had known for many years, is one such man. Examples of Frank’s impact include securing with Meg Hillier MP the first 10 Minute Rule Bill about the importance of quality dance teaching, Frank’s Westminster Hall speech challenging government ministers’ media comments that dance was a soft subject that we shouldn’t encourage children to pursue at school; and his and Sir Gerald’s work with Dame Margaret Hodge MP when she was Minister of State for Culture, Creative Industries and Tourism, which contributed to the publication of the DCMS report into youth dance and new major investment in Youth Dance.

“I was so pleased that Frank Doran was awarded the Jane Attenborough Dance UK Industry Award in 2014 when he knew he was retiring from Westminster. My thoughts go out to his wife Dame Joan Ruddock, who has also always been a strong advocate for dance at Westminster, through her commitment to Trinity Laban Conservatoire for Music and Dance.”