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In any field, over time, issues and trends catch fire. Many stay smoldering or drop off the radar for long periods. But some issues crucial to dancers and choreographers remain as important—if not more so—in 2001 as they were a decade or more ago.
Since 1991 BAX/Brooklyn Arts Exchange has awarded 10 artist-in-residence grants and 56 space grants totaling more than 6000 hours of space to create dance. When the recipient artists, all of whom also had opportunities to present their work during their residencies, are asked what is most important to them, they name space, time, support, and a safe place to take risks. If that’s what is most important, why is it so difficult to fund? Why is there so little assistance from the city of New York, the cultural capital of the world? Why are there so few affordable spaces? Developmental space and nurturing professional support are the keys to insuring opportunity and quality. In Brooklyn, our new cultural district around BAM has drawn a great deal of attention. Well-known artists such as Mark Morris and Twyla Tharp have crossed the bridge to join us. Will this new district, with the press and funding it engenders, insure that other dancers and choreographers receive the support they deserve? Or will it deflect attention from other important work being done?
As a community we must articulate our pressing needs, far greater than can be accommodated in any borough’s cultural district. Space and time to create and safe places to take risks are not expendable; they are not “extras” that we can negotiate away. This is the time to speak out, to take our seats at the table of decision making.
Warshaw is the executive director of BAX.