At the centre of the Performing Arts Biennale - it's all politics

The Performing Arts Biennale is over for this year, after a busy few days of seminars, events and performances. Dansens Hus's Andrea Redmer was there and participated in a conversation about cultural piloting. Here she tells us more about her insights and challenges.

Dansens hus had the opportunity to participate in the Stockholm Cultural Administration's dialogue on cultural piloting - specifically linked to the establishment of Elverket. Our case was one of the city's success examples - and we give ourselves a tick in the box for having created a long-awaited stage for contemporary dance.

The final question - is it political to create spaces for the arts in the city? - is an important question that is of course answered with a resounding "yes" - but first a brief recap of Elverket's dance history.

Sometimes all the pieces fall into place - Dramaten cancels its lease with Elverket, Dansens Hus needs a place to stay during the renovation of the building at Norra bantorget, and both performers and audiences want a medium-sized stage for contemporary dance in Stockholm.

So after a short lease negotiation and with an establishment grant from the city, we have been programming international and Sweden-based dance on Elverket's stage since 2021 - often including some residencies and the Movers Signum format.

At the seminar at the Biennale, we discussed all the road bumps you can face on the way to a new establishment. You can of course identify many, but mainly it's about finding a suitable venue, sustainable financing and a landlord who is willing to accept you as a tenant. Then, of course, the work starts with getting the audience to come here.

Elverket has fulfilled all the expectations that we at Dansens Hus, the audience, performers and financiers had at the opening. We see a fantastic opportunity to give the audience guest performances we have not been able to give before, the choreographers have a place to land in between in terms of size (it is not easy to create works for our large stage with 780 seats in the auditorium that will then be tourable) and Östermalm has a new lively stage with art that breaks norms and takes us on an adventure.

Our rental contract runs until 2025 - and of course we hope that Elverket will become a permanent stage for contemporary dance.

But back to the important question of whether politicians can and should create spaces for art in the city. Access to art and culture is a matter of democracy. Art must be available in different places, outside the customs, inside the customs, throughout the country. The death of the stage - and for contemporary dance the death of the studio - is a major challenge for the performing arts. Of course, politicians need to provide opportunities or even better plan for new establishments and the maintenance of spaces for art.

Dansens Hus shares Danscentrum Stockholm's vision of a future Danskvarter at Norra Bantorget where the free field and the guest performance house meet in newly renovated and needs-adapted premises. A hub for contemporary dance, with courageous artistic choices, a sustainable professional life for the practitioners and above all - uncomfortable, entertaining, difficult to digest, beautiful, creative and imaginative encounters with dance for our audience in the salon (and sometimes outside).

Andrea Redmer, Dansens Hus

Performing Arts Biennale 2023.