Freelance Dancer: The Movement for Dance Workers was born from a research project initiated and led by Karen Wood, Assistant Professor at the Centre for Dance Research, Coventry University, as part of her British Academy Innovation Fellowship. Karen is a practice-based researcher who works in dance and researches freelance artists’ working conditions. The cultural partner on the project, OneDanceUK (ODU), is the sector support organisation and advocate for the increased profile of dance, including acting as secretariat to the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Dance (APPG).

The first in-person activity undertaken for the research was a Knowledge Café, held on 13th July 2022 at Pervasive Media Studios in Bristol. 21 artists attended, with representation from Equity, One Dance UK, University of Warwick and Coventry University.

Professor Dave O’Brien and Dr Roaa Ali set the day up brilliantly with provocations from their latest research around the constitution of the creative industries. They shared statistics with us that foregrounded issues around equality, diversity and access to culture. We also watched an excellent film by colleagues from the Dance After Lockdown project: Click Here

The 21 artists were generous, ambitious and fired up in their thinking. The Knowledge Cafe was set up as four tables that people could carousel round discussing at each; working practices and working conditions, training and education, impact of policies and communication and infrastructure.

Knowledge Cafes, as described by the Global Exchange Facility ( in their 2017 document, are ‘facilitator-led conversations’ that surface collective knowledge, share ideas and encourage collaborative dialogue in a relaxed environment. This Knowledge Café collected insight from the group and built networks through discussion and exchange of ideas.

These ideas were beautifully captured by illustrator Camille Aubry

The full project report from the research can be found in our Resources  section or click here

The outcome of the day­ was the beginnings of the Freelance Dancer: The Movement for Dance Workers.