Political guests included: new culture minister the Right Honourable Margaret Hodge MP; Sir Gerald Kaufman MP, chair of the APPDG; Frank Doran MP, secretary of the APPDG; shadow culture minister Ed Vaizey MP; Baroness Tessa Blackstone; David Taylor MP; Harry Cohen MP, and Angela Watkinson MP. The event was organised by Dance UK working with the Southbank Centre with guests welcomed by the Southbank Artistic Director Jude Kelly and Dance UK board member and Producer of Akram Khan Dance Company, Farooq Chaudhry.
Here is a transcript of Farooq's speech:
"When I was asked to speak on behalf of the dance sector at this reception my first reaction was excitement. I couldn't think of a greater honour than to speak on behalf of an art form that I have served passionately for most of my adult life. And then I thought what words could I possibly find that could adequately reflect the tremendous power and magic of dance. The truth is I can't it's almost obvious: If dance could be spoken we wouldn't be coming to theatres to watch it.
However, what I am able to say is that I believe we are now living in a golden age. Never has dance been more adventurous, bold, inventive, diverse, generous and relevant. There is a confidence and optimism in the sector now that I have never before experienced in the twenty-seven years that I've been involved. The achievements of our artists and companies are reverberating around the world. Dance artists are initiating groundbreaking collaborations with the visual arts, film, and theatre. Next year Akram Khan, with whom I work, will be creating a new duet with French film actress Juliette Binoche. A decade ago such daring collaborations were inconceivable.
Further still the borders between different dance styles and cultures are being torn down. Classical dancers are working with Indian dancers; street dancers are working with modern dancers and so on. And in this brave new world of globalisation no other performing art is better suited for international exchange. Dance makes an excellent and effective cultural ambassador.
Public interest has increased enormously which is reflected in the significant increases in audiences and participation. Excellence and Access are now on level terms. Dance no longer shies away in the margins of our cultural lives. It has the same status, if not more, than museums, music and drama, even though sadly it still has less money.
This growth has also led to more focussed advocacy, better career development for dancers and greater awareness of the health needs of this very demanding profession. Not to forget the recent investments in leadership, producers, creative entrepreneurs, etc.
And this is all just now what about the future? You can bet that our most talented choreographers and dancers will feature prominently in the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics in 2012. You can also bet that they won't be staying at home during the Cultural Olympiad leading into the games. With its energy and physical prowess dance will play a big part in shaping the marriage between art and sport. I'm relieved to see that the prime minister has significantly increased physical activity for children in schools. Clearly he understands the benefits that physical expression has in a child's education. Can you imagine dance not being involved. Absolutely not! That's hell of a lot of opportunity and therefore people working in one single art form.
The possibilities seem endless and the best thing is that we are using our collective creativity to learn from each other and move forward. I'm in no doubt that this kind of dynamism and courage could not have been achieved without continued and sustained funding from the government over the past decade.
But we are only on a cusp, there is more change and re-imagining to be done and there is never a better time to change when morale and confidence is high and there is the artistic and organisational strength to see it through. No one likes or trusts change when things get desperate.
One of the changes I personally would like to see is the perception of funding itself. For too long we have been encumbered with protectionist and defensive values from the notion that subsidy is there to underwrite loss.
We are not losers we are winners and we want to continue winning and have values that are visionary and full of ambition. Therefore in my opinion funding should be considered as an investment. Investment not in our right to fail but in our right to succeed, our success is your success. Funding as much as the Public are essential components of the creative process.
With this in mind , I would say that after all the good work that has been done, this is a very bad time to take the shine off the gold and take away our power. Let alone lose the opportunities that beckon.
I have the sense that I'm probably speaking to the converted. Some of you may know that tonight's event is also to celebrate the first year of the existence of the All Party Parliamentary Dance Group and as a board member of Dance UK I would like to thank all the politicians who have given their support to the group. We would like to especially thank Frank Doran and Sir Gerald Kaufman for generously dedicating their time to establish the group, and also Frank's assistant Caitriona Bearryman.
So this is not a question of persuasion but a question of reminding ourselves what we are in danger of losing and we need to fight for.
Something to seriously think about, when the next comprehensive spending review comes around.
Remember we want nothing more than to continue to move you, make you question, make you laugh, make you cry and make you gasp in awe at the sheer beauty of what we can offer. We must be able to extend our reach beyond our grasp, otherwise what's a heaven for?"
Farooq Chaudhry, Producer, Akram Khan Company and Dance UK Board Member