COVID-19 update: the present and future for CDS

Update: Monday 6th April 2020

COVID-19 update: the present and future for Chisenhale Dance Space

On Monday 16th March, CDS suspended its public programmes until after Easter. On Wednesday 18th March, we took the decision to close our studios to support the requirement for social distancing and for the health of our staff, Members, users and community. Back then, we hoped it would be quite temporary, but the outlook and impact has developed.

Today we confirm that CDS will not be running a Summer Term classes programme for children or adults, the cancellation of the planned Spring-Summer performance programme, and the Space will remain closed until further notice.

We will aim to post another update of the outlook during the week of 18th May. Members and Staff have worked really hard to put together and build brilliant programmes and we hope we can make much of it happen in the future, but we need to see what the future holds.

We are, however, taking our Creative Movement classes for children and families onlineRobyn Holder and Olly Otley will each be running a weekly online class of dynamic moves, creativity and family fun – by donation. More information and how to register is here.

The impact on Chisenhale Dance Space as a small independent charity is huge: by being forced to suspend programmes and close our space, we have lost both earned income and grant-funded elements of our business model and we are without any core funding. The risks to the future our organisation should not be underestimated, but this is by no means the first time in our long and radical history that the future has been in question.

The last two years have been the busiest in CDS’ recent history, successfully building our activities, model and sustainability, but again we’re now having to work out how to continue, and what we need to do to be able to champion experimentation for dance artists and our local communities.

In these fragile and uncertain times for Chisenhale Dance Space, the Trustees have taken the decision to make use of the Government’s Job Retention Scheme support and ‘furlough’ 3 out of 4 of the core staff team from Monday 6th April. Therefore only Director Daniel Pitt and the Trustees will be working (part time, and from home) to ensure a future for our Space, our Membership and our wider work, and this will be our sole focus.

We’ll be using this time to apply for funding and financial support, to model a future for CDS and our Membership, and considering what positive futures can come out of this enforced break. We don’t know the impact to society of these current distancing requirements, but we’re certain that the value of being together in physical spaces, of community, of movement and of touch will be even more important. And that’s what CDS is for.

CDS has always been part of, and exists to support, the independent dance and arts sector. We know that freelance artists are among the most precarious workers and will be badly hit by this crisis. For all planned programmes for which CDS has received the money to deliver, we are committing to pay artists and other freelancers involved, but we also need support ourselves. Huge thanks to the many classes and space hire users who have supported by donating their fees from cancelled events. If you are able to make a donation, please use the Support Us page and don’t forget to add Gift Aid.

Thanks from our Trustees, Staff and Members to all those who have hired our space, taken a class, watched a performance, partnered with us on a project, donated, funded something, been part of a conversation, or supported us in another way. And thanks to the Staff who have gone above and beyond their usual duties in the last few weeks, as we’ve found our way through the developing situation.

Please direct all enquiries to Daniel Pitt, Director by email on

Further updates will be posted here and on our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram channels.

When we all get through this, we’re going to need to dance together more than ever, and we’ll be here for you.