CDS Artist Community Culture Document – Updated September 2023


This text lays out the ethics, values, and commitments that underpin the work of our community. It is a live, evolving document, and will be updated annually, with all in the community having an opportunity to contribute.

We value dance in all its forms and recognise its transformative impact on individuals and communities. We offer a home for artists in our community, both in our imperfect East London building and beyond, prioritising those who lack support elsewhere.

We reject traditional ideas of quality in artmaking, embracing all performance disciplines and styles. We advocate for positive change in our work, communities, and the arts sector

The CDS Artist Community works in ways that are respectful, transparent, ethical, anti-racist, environmentally-conscious, and non-discriminatory. We explore positive change through the lens of the following ideas: collectivity, autonomy, process, generosity, equity, accountability, and accessibility.


Collectivity:

  • We believe everyone in our community should have a say in decision-making.
  • We transform decision making structures to redistribute power and support artists from all backgrounds to contribute.
  • We see connection as a valuable resource and create opportunities for peer-to-peer learning


Autonomy:

  • We empower artists to identify their own needs and access resources with minimal gatekeeping.
  • We allow leadership to pass between different people at different times, and we support others in their plans.
  • We develop processes that reduce artists’ labour and competition.


Process:

  • We value process over product and embrace experimentation.
  • We create space for DIY, messy, non-traditional and uncategorisable practices.
  • We understand there is no single right answer and embrace learning through mistakes.


Generosity:

  • We treat each other with respect, kindness, and care.
  • We assume the best in each other and try to meet people where they are.
  • We share skills, resources, and responsibilities whilst understanding that others may not be able to do the same.


Equity:

  • We trust the knowledge and experiences of marginalised individuals, including those who experience racism, ableism, classism, sexism, transphobia, queerphobia, fatphobia, antisemitism, islamophobia and xenophobia.
  • We recognise and address our privileges and fight oppression within our communities.
  • We prioritise the needs of marginalised people in the context of structural oppression.


Accountability:

  • We hold space for disagreement and conflict and see them as opportunities for learning.
  • We engage courageously, challenging perspectives and holding each other accountable, with care.
  • We commit to transparency, naming harm, and fostering a culture of shared knowledge.


Accessibility:

  • We attend to the access needs of artists in our community.
  • We consider different thinking and learning styles, designing flexible ways of working.
  • We believe everyone has a right to access artmaking, and work to remove barriers to participation. We acknowledge the ways our building excludes many disabled people, and commit to working off-site where possible.

 

Antiracism Training

All artists in the CDS Artist Community, as well as staff and trustees, are required to engage with a process of reflection on racism and antiracist practice. This engagement will be different for people with different backgrounds and experiences. 

CDS has commissioned Season Butler to create a series of three online webinar training videos, which are available to all artists in the community. We also hold space for artists to gather to collectively process and discuss our commitments to antiracism, including a space specifically for black and brown artists.

You can read more about the ways we support artists who experience racism and ableism in the following documents:

Commitments to Anti-Racist Practice  /  Commitments to Anti-Ableist Practice


Published July 2023. Developed by the CDS Artist Committee: Alice Tatge, Claudia Palazzo, Jose Funnell, Valerie Ebuwa, and Zjana Muraro, with support from staff Frances Morgan and Reece McMahon. A development of work done in 2019 by Priya Mistry and Eleanor Sikorski, informed by a survey involving the whole community. It will be updated late 2023/ early 2024 in conversation with new artists who join our community.

 


Image credit: Bakani Pick-Up, Angela Andrew, Jay Yule and Rachel Goodsall working together in the lounge.