MDI looses out on Arts Council England NPO funding

WHITEOUT, Barrowlands Ballet

After 25 years of regular funding from Arts Council England, MDI has been unsuccessful in its application as an NPO for the next four years.

The organisation has been an inspiration to many over the years: transforming lives through its work with people living with such conditions as Parkinson’s and Dementia; various community events and animations of city and town centres with professional works; supporting artists locally and beyond and winning many awards along the way.

It comes as a surprise for such a major funder to withdraw support from an organisation in the light of the successes achieved over the past 25 years.

The last 12 months of our current programme demonstrated an innovative and exciting model for the development of dance in the North-West and beyond. Leap 2017 demonstrated a bold, exceptionally diverse and cutting-edge programme, bringing together the whole dance sector in a dedicated dance space for the City Region. The festival succeeded in bringing dance to an audience of 2,341, part of a total audience of 8,149 for MDI’s 2016-17 events. In addition to this we welcomed over 2.5k unique individuals to dance classes and workshops during the same period.

Leap 2017 also demonstrated the positive financial impact that dance can have in the region, with over £35k going back directly in to the local economy from the festival’s expenditure alone, with additional local spending from visiting performers and audiences.

Since Leap the successes have continued and grown as MDI has worked with many partners and communities culminating in public performances as part of International Dance Day, Summer of Love, Sgt Pepper at 50 and Light Night 2017. This has seen MDI reach an audience of over 12,000 people in little under 6 months.

Our ambition for the future remains the same, the focus of Liverpool as a dance destination will continue to be instrumental in all that we do as we continue to support diverse emerging artists and disadvantaged young people.

Although we accept there may be challenging times ahead we remain resilient and optimistic for the future of the organisation and dance within the city region. Drawing on our proven track record for delivering success (MDI’s long history of being core funded has generated £6 million for dance development in the region) and our strong partnerships with local and national organisations, we will continue to provide an inspiring and exciting annual programme of dance.

Artistic Director of MDI, Karen Gallagher MBE said, “I am personally and professionally disappointed with this decision by ACE especially having led MDI for 25 years. As a local black female leader in this sector I worry about the lack of diverse voices contributing to dance nationally. MDI has an impressive record in producing dance work, reaching new audiences and developing real life-changing opportunities for young and old alike and I find this particular decision to be extremely detrimental to our work and ambition for Liverpool as a dance destination. It is important at this time to reflect where we are and consider our future.”

Dr Cathy Butterworth, Chair of MDI’s Board of Trustees, added, “On behalf of the Board of Trustees of MDI I would firstly like to express how proud we are of the invaluable, vital, irreplaceable work that MDI creates and supports in Liverpool and beyond, work that simply would not happen without this organisation. We are extremely disappointed at Arts Council England’s decision to cut NPO funding to MDI, the only organisation that is solely dedicated to the development and presentation of dance in Liverpool. While we have concerns about the risks that this decision presents to us as an organisation, and to the support and presentation of dance in Liverpool, we are absolutely committed to moving forward positively with a strategy for our future development, and the development of dance in this city.”