Stateside development

Luke Pell

Luke Pell at Brian Lobel's Cruising for Art at In Between Time 2013, Christa Holka 

Luke Pell applied to the Arts' Council's Artists' international development fund for a 17-day research trip to New York and Washington D.C, aiming to develop his practice as a performance curator working with diverse artists and communities.


Luke has a long-standing career in the UK, where he has worked programming festivals, venues, live art, dance, theatre and community projects. For the past five years, he has been Head of Learning and Research at Candoco Dance Company, a role he recently left in order to focus on working with a wider range of dance artists and organisations and to develop his own work.


Luke's research was part of his artistic development, which he also hopes will further his usefulness as an advocate for diverse practice in the UK.

His research objectives were to:

1. identify new artistic and strategic thinking arising from differing cultural sensibilities relating diversity in dance and performance;

2. develop an understanding of international performance;

3. develop a network, profile and resources and

3. explore sustainability of practice without significant public subsidy.

Partnership work

The following partners - who acted as hosts for Luke's visit to the US - were identified as having similar artistic and socio-political concerns to Luke, while working in a different economic and cultural environment. Luke also believed that they were in a position to offer insight into different funding and development models.

  • Mark Russell, Director, Under the Radar Festival, New York: Luke attended Under the Radar Festival to witness Mark's programming choices and development activities around the festival, gaining an insight into how a community arts festival operates in the US. He also attended a three-day symposium at the festival.
  • Heidi Latsky, Independent Dance Artist, Heidi Latsky Dance, New York: Luke spent 10 days with choreographer Heidi, who has had decades of experience working with diverse dancers and communities. He interviewed Heidi and members of her company and observed and participated in her work.
  • Ellen Chenoweth, Managing Director and Cassie Meador, Artistic Director, Dance Exchange, Washington DC: Four days were spent with this group of artists, who have specialised in inter-generational dance practice for the past 36 years.

The hosts and three other key figures that Luke had identified as 'provocateurs' introduced him to a number of artists, organisations and events relevant to his research.


By attending the Under the Radar symposium and the American Realness festival, which also took place in New York during his stay, Luke gained an understanding of the historic development of diverse dance practice in the US, where funding structures for both healthcare and culture differ from the UK. By speaking to the partners and provocateurs he also gained a deeper understanding of how artists operate in these environments, something he sees as developing his teaching and mentoring outlook.

Luke also gained peer feedback on his own ideas and was able to consider how his own work and UK programmes such as Unlimited and the Creative Case for Diversity might have an influence on or be transferred to an international setting. He developed a deeper understanding of his own practice as an artist, curator and leader; and established a network of international leaders in his field. He also enhanced his understanding of how a model of philanthropic funding might transfer, or not, to diverse practice in the UK.

Find out more and apply for the Artists' International Development Fund