Dance4 creating opportunities for talented graduates.


Dance graduate Bakani Pick-Up started work at Dance4 after landing a place on a prestigious nationwide programme supporting people from low income backgrounds into arts careers. Bakani is one of just 40 recent graduates from around the country picked to receive a Weston Jerwood Creative Bursary and he will spend 12 months working on a paid placement.

Paul Russ, Artistic Director and Chief Executive at Dance4 said: “We’re really excited to have Bakani working with us and to be part of the Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries programme. Making sure we have access to the widest pool of talent and new perspectives is absolutely vital to the success of individual organisations like ours and to the arts as a whole.”

Bakani recently completed his MA and BA Honours degrees in Choreography at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance and Falmouth University respectively. He has worked with choreographers Russell Maliphant, Theo Clinkard, Jorge Crecis and Freddie Opoku-Addaie; and most recently he has been chosen to participate in 2016’s Turner Prize winner Anthea Hamilton’s Tate Britain commission.

His practice focuses on improvisation techniques for composing choreography as performance. Exploring his experiences growing up in Zimbabwe he aims to create performance art that serves as an entwining of the two cultures. He is also part of Late Collective, a group that works with themes of gender identity, queer culture and perspectives on race.

The Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries programme was set up to give graduates from low income backgrounds an alternative to the unpaid internships which act as a gateway into the sector for up 88% of young people working in the arts today. Now in its third edition, the programme has proved hugely successful, with 60% of employers in the programme’s second edition extending contracts once the bursary ended and 98% of hosts considering ways in which they can target future job opportunities towards graduates who may not have the means to work for free to get into the arts.

Graduates who have already completed their placements have gone on to a range of senior jobs within the arts, including Artistic Director of Birmingham’s Fierce Festival and Executive Director of Chisenhale Dance Space in Tower Hamlets, London, while others are developing successful freelance careers in the arts.

Bakani said: “I’m really proud to be selected and to get an opportunity like this, since Dance4 is a great place to start my career. I believe this organisation is the best place to challenge and encourage experiments and the team is great in supporting emerging choreographers.”

For more information about Dance4’s work please visit our website on

Top 40: Graduates kick start careers to challenge inequality in UK arts organisations

Forty of the UK’s most talented recent graduates today take up new roles as they join a £1 million bid to end the inequalities of arts recruitment by unpaid internship. The 40 – all from low income backgrounds – officially start year-long paid placements with arts organisations to kick start their careers in the sector, nurture their leadership talent and help catapult them into senior positions traditionally dominated by graduates from more privileged backgrounds.

They are part of the Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries programme to promote fairness and opportunity for graduates from low income backgrounds amidst what the Social Mobility Commission calls ‘left-behind Britain’[i] and publication of Arts Council England’s Creative Case for Equality and Diversity report[ii]. The UK’s arts sector has traditionally recruited staff via unpaid internships which penalise graduates from low income backgrounds who cannot afford to work for nothing. Surveys reveal that more than 75% workers hail from middle income backgrounds[iii] and almost 90% of staff have had to work for free at some point in their careers[iv]. Jerwood Charitable Foundation Director Lilli Geissendorfer said: “The tradition of unpaid internships has for too long meant that UK arts organisations don’t reflect the diversity of their audiences or artists. “The Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries are about creating a level playing field and empowering a new generation of graduates from low-income backgrounds to claim the arts for themselves.

We know it can work because alumni of the programme are already securing significant roles in leading arts organisations and a majority of organisations are changing their recruitment practices after being involved in the programme.”

Recent evaluation of the programme’s second edition, which completed in 2016, shows that: · 60% of host employers extended contracts with placements, or made them permanent, once the year-long placement ended 98% of hosts were considering ways in which they can target future job opportunities towards low income graduates.

Alumni are attaining significant senior positions across the arts. They have gone on to become: Executive Director of Chisenhale Dance Space in Tower Hamlets, London; Artistic Director of Birmingham’s Fierce Festival; Curator at the Whitworth Gallery in Manchester; Producer with the English Touring Theatre and Classical Music Programme Manager for the British Council.

The programme’s insistence on paying a living wage is encouraging host organisations to increase the salaries of existing staff to ensure fairness across the board. Hosts in this third edition include the Turner Contemporary, Liverpool Biennial and Sage Gateshead – as well as smaller scale arts organisations – and represent 13 of the most disadvantaged areas identified by the Social Mobility Commission. Some of the graduates will also get experience of working in the arts internationally through a partnership with the British Council, new to this third edition. Graduates who applied for the programme must have received a full maintenance grant throughout university. Those selected are paid according to the Living Wage Foundation’s recommended salary, with host organisations paying 25% of the placement’s wage, and the remaining 75% coming from the bursary fund.

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