Case study

Bringing together people of different ages, abilities and backgrounds through creative dance

SLiDE is an inclusive dance company based in Croydon, formally established in 2013. 
Arts Fund Arts
Organisations: SLiDE 
Project: Moving towards a disabled-led dance company model 
Grant amount and duration: £85,000 over 36 months 
Year awarded: 2022 
Location: London, UK 
A group of four young people are in a dance studio with wood flooring and black walls. A young woman is in the front, in a purple t-shirt with her arms raised up to her sides
SLiDE Dance. Photo credit: Sarah Hickson

SLiDE are working to prioritise disabled leadership in the arts.

Led by Artistic Director Gemma Coldicott, SLiDE currently works in partnership with Fairfield Halls, the premier theatre space in Croydon. Many of its activities take place there. The company is committed to cultural democracy and co-creation. It works with various groups, including people with Parkinson’s, the over 55s and people with learning disabilities.

Paul Hamlyn Foundation (PHF) awarded the company a three-year Arts Fund grant, commencing November 2021. Gemma says that the process of applying helped SLiDE clarify its plans and future direction. It’s our first multi-year grant. It gave us a real confidence boost.”

The money is being used across the company, including funding a one-day-a-week general manager post, and developing the SLiDE Guide. This is a handbook that articulates the SLiDE approach, which will be used by dance practitioners. 

A significant portion of the grant is committed to a series of related activities that support learning disabled people into leadership roles in SLiDE. The company runs several regular sessions. These include a Wednesday afternoon group for people with learning disabilities, which uses dance to promote health and wellbeing. A Tuesday morning group is training people with learning disabilities to become dance co-facilitators. Both these groups are underpinned by PHF funding.

SLiDE aims to support between three to six people into paid facilitator roles by 2024. The Foundation’s support is making all the difference for that,” says Gemma.

SLiDE is working toward 50% disabled representation on its board. The organisation currently has one learning disabled board member, Matthew Lee, who says: I like helping other people other than myself. Being a SLiDE trustee means I can represent people with a disability and put points across like explaining things that worry me. I like the board meetings and running activities like the warm-up.”

A coach is working with Matthew and the rest of the board to establish inclusive processes. The board will then appoint more disabled members. The aim, Gemma says, is to create learning disabled leaders of the future.”

As part of the development of the organisation we really want to invest in some of our learning disabled members, with a view to them becoming paid facilitators for SLiDE. We’re got a great track record of performance projects where learning disabled people devise and dance side by side with professional dancers. But we have aspirations and ambitions to ensure all SLiDE dance sessions and workshops are co-led by a learning disabled person and a non-disabled person.

Gemma Coldicott, Artistic Director

Find funding

  • Arts Fund

    Amount: £90,000 to £300,000
    Duration: 3 years
    Deadline: Details of the next round will be announced shortly.

    We want to support organisations who are working at the intersection of art and social change.