Arts Council England Emergency Response Fund supports DanceSyndrome

Arts Council England Emergency Response Fund supports DanceSyndromeLocal charity DanceSyndrome is thrilled to have received a grant of £32,570 from Arts Council England to support the online work of Dance Leaders with learning disabilities during the COVID-19 lockdown.


Arts Council England provided the grant from their Emergency Response Fund which is designed to offer support to organisations and individuals in need of immediate support due to the Covid-19 crisis.


DanceSyndrome is a multi-award winning dance charity that delivers inclusive dance workshops and dance leadership training, as well as inspiring performances that demonstrate a focus on ability rather than disability. The charity was founded by Jen Blackwell, who happens to have Down’s syndrome, because she found it difficult to find opportunities in community dance due to her disability. DanceSyndrome’s ethos is that disability should never be a barrier to following your dreams. Dancers with and without disabilities work together to inspire people to see what can be achieved when we all become more inclusive.


DanceSyndrome supports many vulnerable adults across Lancashire who are currently shielding due to the COVID-19 outbreak.  At present, it is unclear when people will be able to return to their regular community dance sessions so the charity had to adapt quickly and with a view to online sessions becoming the norm for most of 2020. The DanceSyndrome team wanted to limit the impact of isolation on participants and continue to make them feel a part of what they refer to as “the dancing family”. They decided to take the workshops online using Facebook, YouTube and Zoom to bring the sessions to regular participants and anyone else who wanted to use them to stay active at home during isolation. The Facebook and YouTube sessions are free to access and the Zoom sessions have a low charge of £2.50.


The funding provided by Arts Council England is allowing DanceSyndrome to respond to the current situation by producing online dance workshops to ensure that participants can still access creative activity from their homes. The funding will also support the charity to be able to plan a new strategy for moving forward after the pandemic. By evaluating the success of these new online platforms during the crisis, the charity can decide whether online sessions could be part of a long-term creative approach in the future, after the pandemic is over. The aim of the charity is to continue to explore how to address the imbalance of opportunity for disabled artists in the North West, and beyond, during the crisis and into the future.



DanceSyndrome MD Dawn Vickers said, “At DanceSyndrome we empower adults with learning disabilities to gain skills not just for dancing and dance leadership but for living independent lives.  It has been so hard for our participants and our team members to not have that face to face contact that is such a positive part of their lives. The online sessions we are offering bridge that gap as best we can and provide a lifeline at a time of significant isolation. We are proud that this grant will benefit many learning-disabled adults whilst giving peace of mind to their families and loved ones at a very challenging time. So many people have turned to the Arts for mental wellbeing during the pandemic and we want to ensure that continues into the future. ”


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