In July 2020, Dance Ireland, Dance Limerick, and Dublin Dance Festival hosted a series of Dance Think Tanks: in-depth conversations with 29 artists and industry professionals working across different areas of the dance sector on the island of Ireland. This research was facilitated by Dr Aoife McGrath who has compiled the Dance Thank Tank Report.

The Think Tanks highlighted that the dance sector has enormous potential for growth, and the ideas for innovation and sustainable development offered by artists in this report provide an exciting roadmap for the sector’s future.

These conversations were convened both in response to the immediate difficulties experienced in the sector following the onset of the global pandemic, and also in response to more long-term, ongoing issues that are of importance to the sector’s survival and sustainability. Three broad themes were explored:

  • Making Dance Performance - Challenges and solutions around how artists can continue to make work.
  • The Dance of Interdependence - Considering the overall dance ecology nationally and internationally.
  • Shaping Sustainability - Exploring how to build resilience as a sector and be equipped for the future.

The report draws attention to the complexity of dance artists’ position within the performing arts landscape and how dance policy and funding schemes need to address this complexity in order to provide effective support.

It calls for increased visibility and representation of dance across educational structures and cultural platforms, and for equity in funding provision for dance. It identifies key areas of opportunity for the sector, including career development, the wellbeing of artists, equality and diversity, and sustainability in the arts.

The report is intended to inform the design of a shared strategy to support the future development of dance on the island of Ireland.



Dance Ireland is the national development organisation for dance in Ireland. We support the work of our Members, and the dance sector through artistic development opportunities, advice clinics, advocacy work, commissioning and networking opportunities locally, nationally and internationally. Our training and residency programmes for professional dance artists, our Youth Dance partnerships and public engagement programmes enable the development of dance as an art-form, as an activity to be accessed and enjoyed, as well as working to progress professional practice. We manage DanceHouse, located in central Dublin, a working base for dance practitioners and a hub for the wider dance community. We use all the opportunities afforded by DanceHouse, our own expertise and connections alongside those of our national and international partners to create a programme of work that engages the public and supports the professional, crossing the boundaries of age, experience and genre. Dance Ireland is an active member of EDN, and has participated in key EU-funded network projects, including modul-dance, Communicating Dance and LEIM. Dance Ireland is a registered charity and receives Strategic Funding from the Arts Council. Additional funding comes from Dublin City Council and grant-aid for project initiatives comes from a wide variety of national and international sources, including Culture Ireland, Creative Europe and Erasmus+.

Dance Limerick’s purpose is to inspire curiosity, creativity and connection through dance. We believe dance empowers and enriches us as individuals, as communities and as a society. Our ambition is for Dance Limerick be a place for dance and a hub of creativity for our artists and for all those with whom we engage. Through dance we support artists and the public alike to be curious, to be creative and to connect with each other and to what matters in the world about us. With this in mind, our mission is to champion and enable dance creation, participation and appreciation and to be a creative community connecting people and ideas through dance. We do this through a specially curated programme of supports for artists, and through our public facing programmes of classes, and performance platforms which encourage artistic dialogue among artists and audiences. Two such platforms include the What Next Festival and the Light Moves Festival of Screendance .
Dance Limerick is a presenting partner of the Aerowaves Network of European Dance presenters and EDN, the European Dance Network of dance houses.

Dublin Dance Festival (DDF) brings artists, audiences and communities together to create and share exceptional dance experiences. We present live, digital and collaborative dance opportunities year-round for the widest possible audience. We showcase the best Irish and international dance and act as a vital platform for artists and the creation of new work, culminating in an annual festival each May. We generate opportunities for artists, locally, nationally, internationally and virtually, through residencies, commissions and partnerships and by encouraging artistic collaboration, experimentation, risk-taking and innovation in dance. We are a key platform for dance year-round, committed to increasing the profile, role and enjoyment of dance across Irish culture and society since our first Festival in 2002.

Think Tank Participants

Think Tank 1: Making Dance Performance Hosted by Dance Limerick, 3rd July 2020.
Participants: Anne Maher, Benjamin Perchet, Carina McGrail, Catherine Young, Emma Martin, Gwen Van Spijk, Jenny Traynor, Liam Scanlon, Nicholas Nwosu, Peter Jordan, Sheila Creevey, Siobhán Ní Dhuinnín.
Facilitated by and summarised by Dr Aoife McGrath.

Think Tank 2: Dance of Interdependence Hosted by Dublin Dance Festival, 17th July 2020.
Participants: Michael Barker-Caven, Jazmin Chiodi, Louise Costelloe, Sheila Creevey, Nicola Curry, Colin Dunne, Michael Keegan-Dolan, Rita Marcalo, Carina McGrail, Fearghus Ó Conchúir, Benjamin Perchet, Liz Roche, Jenny Traynor, Mufutau Yusuf.
Facilitated and summarised by Dr Aoife McGrath

Think Tank 3: Shaping Sustainability Hosted by Dance Ireland, 29th July 2020.
Participants: Michelle Cahill, Louise Costelloe, Sheila Creevey, Ruairí Donovan, Megan Kennedy, Carina McGrail, Lisa McLoughlin, Cian O’Brien, Liv O’Donoghue, Tobi Omoteso, Benjamin Perchet, Jenny Traynor.
Facilitated and summarised by Dr Aoife McGrath.

Think Tank Facilitator and Report Author
Dr Aoife McGrath is Senior Lecturer and Subject Lead in Drama at the School of Arts, English and Languages, Queen’s University Belfast. After a professional dance career as a performer in Germany and Ireland, Aoife has worked as a choreographer, dance critic, and as Dance Advisor for the Irish Arts Council. Publications include the monograph, Dance Theatre in Ireland: Revolutionary Moves (Palgrave, 2013), and the co-edited collection (with Dr Emma Meehan, CDaRe, Coventry), Dance Matters in Ireland: contemporary processes and practices (Palgrave, 2018). Recent choreographic work includes Please (NIMHAFF, 2017), Within: Body+Time (Accidental Theatre, 2018) and Let Down (Being Human Festival, Breastival, Northern Ireland Human Rights Festival, 2018). Aoife is Co-President of the Irish Society for Theatre Research, Co-Convenor of the IFTR Choreography and Corporeality Working Group, and a performer/choreographer member of Dance Ireland.