In February we launched New Dimensions with five UK partners, a commissioning programme to support UK artists to scale up their practice and create new ambitious work for national and international touring. Battersea Arts Centre (London), Take Me Somewhere (Glasgow), Tramway (Glasgow), Transform (Leeds) and Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts (Brighton) created this partnership to nurture and support ambition through a package of support that includes £50k commission, residency space, fundraising and producing support.
We received an overwhelming 240 applications to the open call, with many brilliant ideas from artists expressing how rare these opportunities to create works of scale are for contemporary performance makers. The response to this call has shown us how vital it is that we continue to develop, strategise and advocate for the conditions needed for more works of scale to be made in the UK, so that we can offer more opportunities in the future.
“We are thrilled to support Dan Daw Creative Projects’ first large scale work, Spenny, with this commission. We fell in love with their previous work, The Dan Daw Show, and recognize their potential to engage diverse audiences on a grand scale. Their joyful and unapologetic approach intertwines their lived experience, incorporating queer, Crip, and working-class politics into the core of their creations. We admire that Spenny fearlessly tackles the theme of desiring more money and resources amidst ongoing economic crises. This is a pivotal moment for the company as they aim to expand, and we are excited about their eagerness to explore intimacy within larger spaces. We are delighted to accompany them on this journey and support their ambitions.” – New Dimensions Partners
The New Dimensions partners talked to Dan, Artistic Director of Dan Daw Creative Projects, about the new idea, hopes and expectations for the process:
What ideas and research are you hoping to explore with the New Dimensions commission?
Riding on the success of The Dan Daw Show where we looked at the push/pull of living with shame while bursting with pride as a queer, Crippled person, Spenny will set my experience of living with working class guilt, imposter syndrome and feeling like I’m not doing enough, against the backdrop of excessive and ridiculously expensive production elements.
Spenny will be a vehicle for me to work through what I think I’m worth and the moral dilemma I face in wanting to make and be a part of something huge – literally taking up the most space I’ve ever taken up – while also feeling the guilt of having spent all of this time, money and resource on something so ephemeral. I could have sent £20,000 to my nan, paying her mortgage for three years, but instead I’m thinking about hiring an orchestra. And although I’m deeply not sorry, the guilt runs deep.
What excites you the most about the process of creating work on a larger scale?
I get excited thinking about the trajectory of our work and how we can invite the audience in to watch me work through a real world personal challenge or dilemma I’m grappling with, at the same time as still being able to hold the audience in what they might be feeling in response. Taking the time in my work to look at myself and my place in the World creates space for our audience to reflect on how they are in the World.
The effect of our work on audiences is moving and I’m excited about working at a larger scale, while still finding a way to draw the audience into something extremely private and intimate.
Why do you think it’s so important to talk about imposter syndrome in a large-scale project?
This is our first large scale piece and I‘m not too proud to say that I’m terrified and exhilarated about the road ahead, because I’m going slightly before I feel ready.
Thinking through it I realise this is precisely why I applied for the commission in the first place and why the work needs to explore imposter syndrome. I do feel this terror and exhilaration deeply when I think about taking this next step as a maker, so it feels important that the work is about that.
There’s joy in the terror and I’m galvanised by this as the starting point for this massive, spenny piece of new work.
What’s the conversation you’re interested in having with audiences in Leeds, London, Glasgow and Brighton?
Imposter syndrome, self-belief and how much value we do and don’t place on ourselves is something we are aware is relatable to many working class creatives as well as makers from other industries. It has always felt like the elephant in the room, so my hope is that this work will prompt us to find ways of talking about things that perhaps have always been there, but we’ve never let ourselves be vulnerable enough to have these conversations. The chances are that these themes will resonate with audiences too.
How can the New Dimensions partners best support your process over the next 2 and a half years?
It feels too early to be able to be concrete with the support we’ll need. I anticipate there will be a lot of finding out as we go and, at this early stage, it feels like the best support will come in the form of clear, transparent communication and making sure we involve the New Dimensions partners as collaborators, not only as administrators. There has already been plenty of emphatic head nodding and enthusiastic note taking by the partners on preliminary Zoom calls, and I’m excited about this thing we’re going to give birth to over the next two and a half years together.