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Life as a BBC PAF Dance Producer Fellow

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Francesca Tortora | 10:43 UK time, Thursday, 3 May 2012

Yassmin Foster – one of our 2011 Dance Fellows – is working with the Association of Dance of the African Diaspora (ADAD) on producing a three day conference. Yassmin answers that very first hurdle: where do you even begin?

“I am well into my Dance Producer Fellowship at ADAD. There is a buzz of dance throughout the office and the building (we sit next to Dance UK and the Urdang Academy), as the hallways are usually full of students stretching, warming their vocal chords, or teachers and visitors of musical theatre.

As the Assistant Producer, my main role is to support the planning of a project called Re:Generation 2012  – a major gathering of artists, academics and students focused on shaping the future of dance of the African Diaspora. The three day event, which will be hosted at The Place in London, will include performances, talks, discussions and dance workshops. With delegate numbers likely to reach 100, and with such an enlightening, informative and interesting programme, I have had to ensure that ADAD is moving towards the same goal as any other potential partners.


Yassmin Foster smiling in a BBC Performing Arts Fund t-shirt


To manage this, I have had to pull apart the three day schedule, and rebuild the programme under prioritised headings. The planning so far has consisted of firming up the programme, sending out invitations and applying for funding which we’re currently awaiting a decision for.

I have a big red file that sits on the desk which houses the beginnings of;

1.    The programme
          a.    Proposed schedule
          b.    Breakdown of activity
2.    Finances
          a.    Budget
          b.    Questions on funding / income
3.    Logistics
          a.    Notes on the venue
4.    Marketing
          a.    Notes on branding
          b.    Merchandise
5.    Data analysis
          a.    Previous attendance reports
          b.    Notes on performance indicators
6.    Planning / meeting notes
7.    AOB

This has led to me thinking about the best advice I would offer to other producers: work with a budget that is transparent, self-explanatory and does not shy away from where savings can be made, but instead shows a complete picture of what the project will cost. 

My motto is that you need to be aware of your funding sources and any restrictions on spend, monitoring and follow up reporting. Monies such as donations and in-kind support which can be quantified should be regarded as an added bonus and nothing but, for they cannot always be guaranteed!

Cultural influences from Gran Canaria

Outside of my work in the office, my enthusiasm for dance jetted me away to the sunnier climes of Gran Canaria and the festivities of the Las Palmas carnival in late February.

From the outset I thought it was bonkers!  The costumes had no consistency and I soon noticed that people wore their costumes for the entire day. I would see people dressed as animals, flamenco dancers, action heroes and Grimm’s Brothers fairy-tale characters casually walking down the street. Gradually it all began to make sense; the carnival is inclusive and moves with the times. It is dripping with tradition but allows for media, migrant cultures and global influences to be celebrated.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Las Palmas carnival. The welcoming environment, enthusiasm and vibrancy of the people created an infectious atmosphere, especially the live Afro Cuban Salsa and Afro Brazilian Samba music and dance of the day that so easily transcended into popular, digitally composed music by night.

It was amazing to see how the whole island got involved, from the youngest to the eldest member of the family. Such inclusivity is a particular memory that I have taken away. To me, this experience has reinforced the mission for Re:Generations – The Next Generation.

The event is still developing in size, reach and significance for 2012 and I can’t wait to see what it brings next."


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