Famed Leeds contemporary dance company marks 35th year by launching £50k fundraiser amid cuts

Itzik Galilis Until.With/Out.Enough. Picture by Stephen Wright.
Itzik Galilis Until.With/Out.Enough. Picture by Stephen Wright.
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In the face of funding cuts, Leeds arts leaders are determined that the show will go on for a pioneering dance company in its 35th year.

Phoenix Dance Theatre, based in Quarry Hill, has launched its biggest ever fundraising campaign amid serious financial challenges.

The arts organisation, which is the longest standing contemporary dance company outside of London, needs to generate up to £50,000 to keep educating its dancers, creating top class shows and performing across the globe.

Alongside cuts to core funding, the company is also having to deal with the impact of the Boxing Day floods that damaged equipment, costumes and props last year.

Phoenix’s ‘Give 35 for 35 Years’ campaign is asking for donations of £35, £350 or £3,500 from supporters.

Sharon Watson, artistic director at Phoenix, said: “Phoenix Dance Theatre is a gem of the North. Giving will ensure the Phoenix flame burns bright for another 35 years and that there is always a place for contemporary dance talent in the North.”

Phoenix Dance Company was formed in Chapeltown in 1981 by David Hamilton, Donald Edwards and Vilmore James. Six years later the company expanded, employed female dancers for the first time and moved to Yorkshire Dance in Leeds city centre.

Having since toured internationally, been rebranded as Phoenix Dance Theatre and played a part in high-profile shows including Ghost Peloton at the Yorkshire Festival 2014, Phoenix is now celebrating its 35th anniversary with a 2016 tour.

Keith Evans, Phoenix’s chair, added: “In a climate where funds are constantly reducing and other forms of investment are more competitive than ever, financially sustaining Phoenix long into the future is our greatest challenge.”

Phoenix is a registered charity, which relies on financial support from several sources and offers dance education to young people from a range of backgrounds.

Fatal Strategy 1993. Pictured are Tony Louis and Sharon Donaldson (Watson).

Fatal Strategy 1993. Pictured are Tony Louis and Sharon Donaldson (Watson).

To donate to the campaign visit easydonate.org/PNX002 or text ‘PNX002 £5’ to 70970 to give £5.

What is next for Phoenix?

Phoenix Dance Theatre is set to play a major part in celebrating Leeds’ West Indian Carnival.

Artistic director Sharon Watson is choreographing a production called Carnival Ballet, which will celebrate the event’s 50th year when it receives it premiere in 2017.

Running 1985. Pictured are Merville Jones, Villmore James, Edward Lynch, Donald Edwards and Leo (David) Hamilton.

Running 1985. Pictured are Merville Jones, Villmore James, Edward Lynch, Donald Edwards and Leo (David) Hamilton.

Ms Watson said: “This exceptional and unique piece will share the spirit, spectacle and heritage of the Caribbean Carnival as part of a UK and international tour.”

For further information visit phoenixdancetheatre.co.uk.

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