Some readers, Arts Summit 2020, and Broken History

I’m getting close to a next revision of “Dance in the Baltimore Region,” and once again looking for a few good readers. This revision is up to about 100 pages, about half of which will be mostly familiar to previous readers. So, if you’ve got some time on your hands and feel like telling me what I’ve gotten wrong so far, please be in touch.

This is also Maryland Arts Summit week. This is an all-virtual event, using Crowdcast and Google meeting, and recorded versions of the sessions will be available after the live event. Sorry I didn’t get this out ahead of the first day, but… MSAC probably has you on their radar already. In case they don’t, information is here:

Something that’s been in my notes for a while went public last week – an exploration of the first Nutcracker in America, and I imagine it’s not the one you’re thinking of…

Please #BRDS2020 and bring friends to #BRDS2020 ( )
Please stay home.
Please keep dancing.
Please reach out to people directly and personally. They will miss seeing/dancing/working with you. I will miss you.
Simple acts of kindness do matter. Point out beauty when you can. Bring a little joy to someone.
If there is something I can do, please let me know.

Space for Tennis

A [un]fun fact from a geospatial analysis of recreation in Baltimore…

Baltimore is home to over 230 outdoor tennis courts (about half of them operated by the city).  A tennis court takes up 7200 square feet. About 2800 square feet of that is the in-bound area, and there’s some overlap outside the lines where courts are adjacent.  This means that tennis players in Baltimore have access to more than 1.2 million square feet of dedicated, purpose-built space.

That’s enough space for one thousand 30×40-foot dance studios.

About 5% of Americans play tennis.

The Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks lists 40 recreation centers, 120 playgrounds, 170 athletic fiends, 110 tennis courts, 101 basketball courts, and 29 aquatics facilities in its inventory. Of these, dance classes are listed in 6 of 40 rec centers.

BRDS2020 is Live

The Baltimore Regional Dance Survey (BRDS) 2020 Edition is now live. This year, it’s January 1st! Click this to register and participate at your convenience.

The purpose of the Baltimore Regional Dance Survey is to gather sufficient information on dance and the dance economy in the Baltimore region to identify gaps and opportunities, help direct resources to address those gaps and opportunities, make informed and credible policy recommendations when questions impacting dance in and around Baltimore arise, and to help dancers throughout the region understand and work with each other to create a more constructive and productive environment for dance.

The only major change from last year is a question about current (well, 2019) dance habits, in contrast to your life-long personal dance history. This will address situations for dancers that started in (for example) ballet, but moved on to something else later in their career.

The Baltimore Regional Dance Survey is anonymous and entirely voluntary. All questions, except the first couple (which determine the parts of the survey that are relevant to you), are optional. You can share as much, or as little information, as you want. You do need a valid email to register, but your answers are anonymized and not associated with the email.

2020 is the most important year for the Baltimore Regional Dance Survey. There are several real “brick and mortar” opportunities in and around Baltimore. Broad, representative participation in the BRDS is the most convincing data I can offer when someone asks why they should do something for, with, or about dance in Baltimore. I’ll be making that case for some people as early as late January, so please be counted! Everyone that learned or taught dance, choreographed, performed, worked with or supported dancers in the Baltimore region during 2019 is encouraged to participate. We really do mean everyone – the experience of the newest, just-had-my-first-class dancer is just as relevant as in-business-for-decades studio owner.

Please participate yourself and share this page ( ), the direct registration link
( ), and the tag #BRDS2020 with your dance colleagues, students, teachers, mentors, coworkers, and friends.

March 1 2020 Update: I’ve fixed a field-length problem with one of the performance-block questions. I don’t think this will impact results (I think we can figure out the abbreviations used so far), but you now have more than 5 characters to describe your preferred performance venue.

BRDS2019 is Live

The Baltimore Regional Dance Survey 2019 Edition is now live. This year, much, much closer to the period of interest (calendar year 2018) – it’s still January! So, memory is a bit fresher, and hopefully that will make things go faster and easier.

Major changes in the 2019 survey include a few new questions about dance competitions, and a greatly expanded structure for dance spaces.

Several comments about the 2018 survey expressed frustration with the “one size fits all” nature of the site-specific questions. So, for 2019, you don’t have to generalize your answers across all the spaces you’ve been in during 2018 (but you are limited to 12 different spaces for each kind of use). Hopefully this will work out better for everyone.

It’s been a busy time, and I’m grabbing as many windows of opportunity as I can, but there’s a lot to do. I decided to prioritize the BRDS launch, so that put the analysis of the 2018 results on a back burner [again]. Still working, I promise!

To be meaningful, BRDS still needs to reach a wider audience. Any suggestions or help you can provide is most welcome. Please share this page ( ), the direct registration link
( ), or the tag #BRDS2019 with your dance colleagues, students, teachers, mentors, coworkers, and friends. Everyone that learned or taught dance, choreographed, performed, worked with or supported dancers in the Baltimore region during 2018 is encouraged to participate. We really do mean everyone – the experience of the newest, just-had-my-first-class dancer is just as relevant as in-business-for-decades studio owner.

Also coming in 2019, we’ll begin studying the impact of dance performance on the audience. If you’d like to participate, please get in touch.

Speaking of getting in touch, several people expressed specific challenges in BRDS2018, and I have [potential] solutions for some of you, but… I don’t know who you are. I’m happy to share what I know with anyone that can benefit, but please remember that the BRDS surveys are anonymized, so you have to reach out and let me know how to get back to you. Please don’t hesitate. You are the reason I’m doing this.

BRDS2018 Analysis begins – Baltimore City Respondents

A little later than I had hope, and this will take longer than last year, but I’ve begun digging through the BRDS 2018 responses.

A bit less than half of respondents provided their zip code, but of those that did, BRDS is still having trouble reaching people in Baltimore City –

This is pretty different than the 2017 responses (obviously, some people did not come back for the survey this year):

It’s a been a lot of months since the end of 2017, but in the interest of filling in gaps, I’ll leave the survey open. If you have any suggestions about reaching into those parts of the city, please let me know.

Dance company wordcloud

As you might imagine, I’ve been trying to find (or make) good data on the business of dance. This is no small challenge, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a little fun along the way.

Some people like graphics, so this is a little fun for today. From a collection of 2639 dance company names, dropping “dance,” “ballet,” “company,” and “theater” (both variations), what do dance companies call themselves? Something like this:

2012 Dance attendance rates – About 150,000

It’s hard to find current data – 2012 research released in 2015 seems to be about as close as we can get. The 2012 NEA States of Engagement report includes this bit of information – Baltimore is part of this, but the Washington, D.C. region probably biases the results a bit (still looking for more granular or current data, if you have any tips).

The percent of adults who attended a dance performance in 2012 in the Washington-Baltimore-Northern Virginia, DC-MD-VA-WV MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area) was about 9.2% (range 7.0-12.0%).

If we use the lower-bound (7%), and apply that to the Baltimore region, dance attendance could be…

Region Total pop Adult pop Dance attendance
Anne Arundel 573,235 444,830 31,138
Baltimore City 611,648 483,202 33,825
Baltimore County 832,468 652,655 45,656
Carroll 167,781 131,037 9173
Harford 252,160 195,424 13,680
Howard 321,113 242,119 16,948
Total 2,758,405 2,149,267 150,449

Add this all up and it suggests a dance attendance population of about 150,000 people in and immediately around Baltimore.

Baltimore dance graduates, a longer view

A while ago, I made a short post about dance graduates in Baltimore. Since it’s graduation season, I thought it would be appropriate to fulfill the “I’ll come back to this eventually” promise with a deeper set of data. To begin, I’ll be a bit generous, and include both the University of Maryland main campus (College Park, MD) and Frostburg State University (Frostburg, MD) in the regional scope. UMCP is the only regional institution that offers a Masters degree in dance (designated UMCP-M). This data set represents 792 degrees awarded over 14 years (this isn’t necessarily 792 different dancers – some may have both a Masters degree from UMCP and a Bachelors degree from some other local institution). All institutions combined graduate an average of 56(.6) dancers per year for the past 14 years.
Continue reading “Baltimore dance graduates, a longer view”

Dance in public schools is real money and lots of dancers

As a point of information, because it’s in front of me… In Baltimore and 6 counties surrounding (Anne Arundel, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Carroll, Frederick, Harford, Howard), I’ve found 71 public school dance programs with dedicated instructors. Most (44) are high schools, with 23 middle schools and 4 elementary schools.

It’s not entirely fair (I don’t know about their individual workloads or schedules, and some definitely teach more than dance), but the average teacher salary in Maryland hovers around $60,000. If there are 71 [different] dance teachers in public schools in Maryland, that alone represents something around $4,000,000 in dance-teacher wages.

Straying even further into the speculative, if each of these teachers has just 30 students, that’s more than 2000 dancers-in-training in the public schools.

Does anyone have suggestions about where to find data to validate the speculative? How many students does a public school dance teacher teach in a given school year? Are dance teacher salaries in line with average teacher salaries? What do the private schools add to this?

Baltimore Regional Dance Survey 2017 Summary

To make this a little easier (the blog format puts things in reverse-chronological order) for people coming to explore the Baltimore Regional Dance Survey from 2017, here are the relevant items…

Please keep in mind the biases apparent in the BRDS2017 respondent pool – BRDS2017 did not successfully reach respondents in all of Baltimore City, and did not reach young dancers or dancers in less-popular forms (e.g., Aerialists, Flamenco, Burlesque, Indian, Folkloric). With that firmly in mind, in reading-order, the summary posts discussing BRDS2017 are:

Baltimore Regional Dance Survey – The Geography of Respondents
BRDS2017 – Gender and Age
How Do Baltimore Dancers Spend Their Time?
Exploring Baltimore Dance Forms
Baltimore Dance Forms in Three Dimensions
Baltimore Dance Classes
Characteristics of Baltimore Dance Classes
Travel for Dance Classes
Economics of Baltimore Dance Classes
Baltimore Dance Class Space Satisfaction
Baltimore Dance Instructors On Their Available Studios
Baltimore’s Dance Performance Spaces
BRDS Opinions On Performance Space in Baltimore
Satisfaction with Baltimore Dance Performance Spaces
Ideal Baltimore Dance Venue Capacity
Baltimore Regional Dance Services Demand
Baltimore Regional Dance Services Supply
Dance Issues as Revealed by the Baltimore Regional Dance Survey 2017

If you’re new to the BRDS, or just curious about what’s going on here… that will hopefully (!) give you some idea.

Once you’ve digested all that, please consider participating in the 2018 survey.