That is why we were particularly grateful when the great and the good of the dance world got together two years ago, on some of the hottest days of the year, at Council for Dance Education and Training’s (CDET) offices to consider our new ‘identity’. We also consulted with other charities, donors, and most importantly the service users themselves.
One task of those in the groups was to suggest a name that encapsulated our soon-to-be-merged organisation. Suggestions ran rife from the rather lengthy ‘The Royal Ballet Dance and Dance Teachers Benevolent Fund, to the pithier sounding, ‘For Dancers’. Interesting, but probably too much and too little information respectively. In reality, does a name matter that much? It is widely agreed that people donate to causes, not names. Would a charity like Cats Protection League be any more successful if it was called ‘Catty Come Home’ to rephrase a successful TV play?
For those who may not know, Cathy Come Home was a seminal television play broadcast in 1966, which plighted the state of the homeless in Britain. As the marriage of Cathy and Reg declined further into poverty, the film ended when Cathy can no longer stay in temporary accommodation, her children are taken away by social services, with Cathy insisting ‘you’re not taking my kids’. But they do. Interesting fact — a year later, in 1967 the charity Crisis was formed as a result.
So finally, our charity arrived at Dance Professionals Fund as the name, specifically chosen to mark the merger of support for dancers and dance teachers. One of the strangest questions we have had since is ‘do you still help ballet dancers?’, as if being a dance professional and a ballet dancer were somehow mutually exclusive. Of course we do help ballet dancers and many others too, including dance teachers, choreographers and choreologists, and we are working as hard as we can to spread the message to dance companies and dance schools. But just as important it is for us is to spread the word about what we do, especially when the provisions of the state are becoming increasingly squeezed— cuts in benefits, limited NHS medical services, and so on and so on.
The fact is that none of us really knows how and when our circumstances might change.
‘Fund’ was an important word for us too, because that is what we do; fund those in need, where possible. We aim to make our application process as transparent as possible because we do know that it isn’t always easy to ask for help (interesting fact, when we talk about things ‘doing what they say on the tin’, the first Heinz products were in see-through jars and you don’t get much more transparent than that!)
So there you have it — two years on from the (tropical) brain storm and one year on from our launch, we are open and ready for business. Look forward to telling you more soon.